HONOLULU (KHON2) — For the first time since Sunday, Aug. 8, COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped below 200.
The state has seen an extreme drop in COVID-hospitalizations compared to Wednesday, Sept. 1, when there were 426 patients hospitalized.
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As of Friday, Oct. 1, there are 182 people hospitalized with the coronavirus throughout the state, and health officials said the state can expect to see federally funded nurses start to leave next week.
“To go from 426 to 182 [COVID patients] in a month is obviously a dramatic decrease in hospitalizations and ICU numbers,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO.
He said there are currently about 40 COVID ICU patients — which is half the number since the beginning of September. Raethel also said the high number of deaths in September played a role in decreased hospitalizations.
“This death rate of 193 — that’s much higher in any given month, it’s 25% of all the deaths we’ve had since the beginning of the pandemic,” he added.
Raethel said the state can expect to see more fatalities in October.
He added that there are 742 federally funded clinicians currently in the state. The first wave of 46 nurses arrived in mid-August as triage tents began to go up, and their eight-week assignment ends next weekend.
“We will be starting to wind down some of these assignments,” Raethel explained. “Some staff will roll over from their eight-week assignment and continue maybe through Nov. 13, but we do have to match the staffing with the reduction in hospitalizations for COVID patients.”
The second wave of federally funded clinicians came on Monday, Aug. 23, and brought in roughly 201 staff.
“And their assignment finishes on Oct. 16, so we will lose a number of those staff every week,” Raethel said.
He said determining when they leave impacts when the tents come down.
“We do anticipate over the next few weeks that most, if not all, of the tents will come down,” he said.
A triage tent was put up outside Queen’s Punchbowl’s Emergency Department in mid-August. A spokesperson with Queen’s Health Systems said that the tent could come down as early as this weekend or early next week.
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The triage tent will remain up at Queen’s West Oahu. Raethel said he expects that tent to remain up for several weeks due to the high number of COVID cases on the Leeward coast.