HONOLULU (KHON2) — The State positivity rate remains close to 3% and COVID-19 hospitalizations have jumped to 70, the highest since the end of January 2021.
Health officials are concerned as numbers are starting to mirror what happened in July and August of 2020.
“We are losing ground on the ground that we had gained and earned for the last few months and it’s a little bit eerie at this point because we know we are one month away from last year in which we saw those infections just skyrocket, and the hospitalizations and deaths skyrocket,” said Elena Cabatu, Hilo Medical Center’s Director of Marketing.
Doctors have said the biggest difference this time around is that practically all hospitalizations and infections are preventable at this point with the vaccine.
“This very clearly is the pandemic of the unvaccinated, as was described by Dr. Walensky at the CDC,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “We have 70 people in the hospital now and virtually all of them are unvaccinated.”
Hilo Medical Center went from four COVID patients earlier in the week of Monday, July 12, to nine on Saturday, July 17, and has four of the 11 ICU beds in use.
“We’re talking about a preventable case of hospitalizations here and so if we continue to get vaccinated less, there’ll be less strain and utilization of hospital resources,” Cabatu said.
She said she has seen teenagers in the hospital with COVID, but recently patients are ages 30 to 50.
“And that mirrors the vaccination rates of that age, those age groups,” she said.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the current case trend statewide is unvaccinated residents who have traveled and unvaccinated residents at indoor gatherings not wearing masks.
According to the DOH website, there have been 291 travel-related COVID cases between June 15 and July 15, the majority of cases (258) were residents.
According to state data, 338,810 people have entered the state since July 8, when vaccinated mainland travelers could bypass a pre-test or quarantine.
In those nine days, 204,405 travelers have shown proof of vaccination; 104,752 opted for taking a negative COVID test and 6,578 decided to quarantine.
Of the travelers who decided not to take a pre-test or show proof of vaccination, 4,466 were residents compared to 2,112 visitors.
On Saturday, Kauai health officials said most of their recent cases involved residents returning home from Las Vegas.
The County said Vegas poses significant risks because most activities are indoors and crowded with people from all over the country who are not required to wear masks.
On Friday, Vegas health officials advised everyone, vaccinated or not, to wear face coverings once again.
“The unvaccinated folks that are catching the Delta variant are now, in some cases being hospitalized,” Green added. “So, we’re not done with this, I really, really want to encourage people to get vaccinated to avoid severe illness, number one, and that that in turn will prevent hospitalization.”