HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Work Group’s latest forecast shows the most likely scenario is Honolulu hitting 4,000 daily cases and 250 hospitalizations by the new year.
The model assumes vaccinated people at 50% more susceptible to omicron than to delta, but still reduced compared to unvaccinated.
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The Department of Health is investigating a cluster linked to the “Hawaii’s Finest Music Festival” held at Bishop Museum on Dec. 17 and Dec. 18. This cluster comes despite organizers requiring attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
“Given how much faster omicron spends, in the same amount of time, that you would have 100 Delta cases, we may be at five or 600 omicron cases,” HiPAM co-founder Dr. Thomas Lee said. “So that means that that five hospitalization number per 100 omicron is now at 25 or 30, just given the severe the absolute magnitude of cases.”
The model’s most likely scenario forecasts omicron to be 2.5 times as contagious as delta, but less severe.
“I’m still not willing to bet my house on it but I’m willing to be my car that it is much less severe than delta,” Dr. Lee said.
Currently, there are 100 COVID patients hospitalized in Hawaii. The peak during the delta surge was 448 in September.
The HiPAM model projects there will most likely be 250 hospitalizations in Honolulu by Sunday, with a worst-case scenario of 881. Dr. Lee is most concerned about the neighbor islands.
“In a county with very limited resources, just a decent a moderate increase in hospitalization due to COVID can significantly strain its capacity,” Dr. Lee said.
When will the peak of Hawaii’s omicron surge arrive? Dr. Lee says it’s too early to tell. We still have yet to see the outcome from Christmas gatherings.
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“Not everybody who probably is COVID positive got tested on Saturday but we’re not going to see any new cases from gatherings on Christmas Day show up symptomatic for at least one or two more days,” said Lee. “Then that’s when they’re going to get tested, and there’s going to be another one to two-day delay for those tests to come in.”