HONOLULU (KHON2) — COVID-19 hospitalizations are up and staffing shortages are spreading healthcare workers thin.

Officials said, help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will arrive soon.

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“Our goal is by over the next two weekends to have over 500 personnel on the islands,” said Healthcare Association of Hawaii executive director Hilton Raethel, “and that will be dispersed across a number of our hospitals, both on Oahu and the neighbor islands.

According to Raethel, 348 people in Hawaii were hospitalized with COVID on Thursday, Jan. 13, 7% had their booster shot and none of the 41 patients in intensive care were boosted.

Raethel said, Queen’s West Oahu and Punchbowl — which both declared an internal state of emergency recently — have the most critical need for FEMA help but Hilo Medical Center is ready for the support as well.

“There’s actually a lot of patients cycling through our hospital, they’re not staying with us as long, but it’s a relentless surge of patients coming to us. So once a bed opens, we fill it with another patient.”

Elena Cabatu, Hilo Medical Center Marketing Director

“We need the FEMA-funded personnel to come in and give our staff some respite and to take up some shifts that are being filled by personnel that are working overtime,” Cabatu said.

Cabatu had some advice for those who think a mild case of COVID-19 means no symptoms.

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“I would encourage everyone out there to go and talk to someone who has been infected with COVID and didn’t end up in the hospital,” Cabatu said, “I’ve had many conversations with people and they say that it is no joke, it is horrible, the fever is unreal and the isolation might be even worse than that.”