Hawaii health officials say start of 2022 will be difficult, but hope lies ahead in new year

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state positivity rate, hospitalizations and daily COVID infections continue to climb as the state gets ready to ring in 2022.

COVID hospitalizations increased to 152 on Friday, Dec 31, and the positivity rate in each county climbed. The state positivity rate is at 15.1% — a signal the state still has a long way to go until the omicron surge levels off.

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“We’ve got record seven-day averages, record 14-day averages, record positivity rate, record daily counts, and all the evidence says that starting early next week hospitalization rates will start to rise fairly dramatically,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii president and CEO.

According to state health data, 18 to 29-year-olds had the highest hospitalization admissions during the last week of December as 11 people were hospitalized with COVID, followed by people in their 50s (10 hospitalizations), 70s (9), 60s (8), zero to 17-year-olds (7), 30s (6), 80+ (5) and people in their 40s (4).

From Dec. 22 to 29, two people in their 40s, three people in their 80s, two in their 70s and four people in their 60s died of COVID.

“If you’re over 60, if you have underlying health conditions, you need to get a booster shot because those are the people that are ending up hospitalized, and especially going to the ICU,” explained Lt. Gov. Josh Green.

State health officials are encouraging people to avoid large indoor gatherings this New Year’s holiday. Those who plan on watching the fireworks outside are encouraged to wear a mask and distance themselves from others.

“We want people to enjoy the holidays. People need physical interaction and if you got to do it, just do it safely and do it outdoors or in well-ventilated areas if at all possible.”

Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii president and CEO

Hawaii ends 2021 with one of the lowest overall case counts and deaths reported in the country. Lt. Gov. Green said it is due to the state’s vaccine rollout, mask-wearing and Safe Travels program.

“I think when spring starts, people will emerge from this with a ton of immunity, and we will have kept most people going and most people alive,” he said. “But we have to get through this somewhat dark part of the winter.”

Green believes omicron will start to slow down by early February; from there, a better outlook will emerge.

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“We should just be smart as we come through this last phase of COVID, so do what you can to support one another and have a safe and healthy new year with your close immediate family — not a giant group. Just be with the people you love and you’re closest to and then we start to recover again,” he continued.

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