HONOLULU (KHON2) — As the COVID case counts go up, so do hospitalizations about two weeks after infection. Omicron case counts have skyrocketed at a much faster rate than the delta variant, and while hospitalizations have not gone up as quickly as infections, they are going up.
Additionally, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has identified a new COVID cluster linked to a live concert on Molokai. This concert took place at the Paddlers Restaurant and Bar on Saturday, Dec. 18. For more details on the DOH’s recent COVID clusters, click here.
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On Thursday, Dec. 16, there were 32 COVID patients hospitalized in the state. On Thursday, Dec. 23, there were 77 COVID patients hospitalized. Finally, on Thursday, Dec. 30, there were 141 COVID patients hospitalized.
“There are very, very few people who get the common cold who end up in the hospital,” explained Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO. “And our hospital counts are going up every single day and, again, the common cold generally does not land you in the hospital — COVID can and COVID will.”
Many health officials worry because the positivity rate continues to increase about 1% each day — a sign that Hawaii is nowhere close to being out of this coronavirus surge.
Experts believe omicron symptoms in the vaccinated tend to be milder than delta, which is a sign the vaccine is working, and the vast majority of the people in intensive care are unvaccinated.
Hilo Medical Center and Maui Health said some vaccinated patients come to the hospital for other conditions and do not know they have COVID until they do mandatory testing to be admitted.
Raethel said the numbers can be inflated in those instances, but COVID can still exacerbate the severity of any condition.
“Anyone who tests positive for COVID, regardless of whether they have significant symptoms, will be counted as a COVID patient because they do have COVID,” Raethel explained.
Maui Health said vaccinated people who show symptoms have breathing issues; most do not require additional oxygen, and their average length of stay at the hospital is between two to four days.
“Those who are unvaccinated could be in for seven to 10 days or 20 days or even longer. We’ve had multiple people are in for multiple weeks because of COVID,” added Raethel. “If someone is very, very elderly, and/or if they have multiple coexisting conditions, then their length of stay could be longer but their bodies are very frail as well, but generally, again, if you’re fully vaccinated, you’re in and out within a few days — maybe four to five days.”
Officials want everyone to take COVID seriously for New Year’s 2022 to avoid the further spread of the virus, and they are urging people to get their booster.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
“Omicron is so infectious that people are going to catch it, but you’re in complete control whether you’re going to get sick or not,” Green continued. “All you have to do is get a booster shot that will prevent you from ending up in the intensive care unit.”