Hawaii sees highest one-day COVID death toll


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The health department reported eight new coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest one-day COVID death toll since the onset of the pandemic.

One of the deaths was an Oahu woman in her thirties. Health experts said the delta variant is proving to have more severe complications, even among younger people.

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Maui Health Chief Medical Director Dr. Michael Shea said it’s not just kupuna who are getting severely ill and passing from COVID complications. The delta variant is a threat for people of all ages, and it’s much deadlier for those who are unvaccinated.

“I’ve seen a couple of very young people recently who you would not look at and say this is someone who is going to die, who passed away, and it’s tragic,” Shea said. “It’s tragic for the families. It’s tragic for their children. It’s tragic for our staff.”

The department of health said all eight people who died from COVID complications had underlying conditions.

A DOH spokesperson said due to privacy laws, the department is not able to go into further detail on a patient’s health diagnosis. However, the CDC said underlying conditions could be something as common as being overweight, a current or former smoker, and even pregnancy.

“All of us are at risk,” Shea said. “It used to be a year ago we thought, well, it’s the kupuna. It’s people with severe chronic disease — and that was true. I think at this point everybody is at risk.”

Doctors and the DOH continue to promote vaccinations as the best defense against severe health complications from the virus.

Shea adds the usage of face coverings and social distancing should continue to be followed, regardless of the COVID mandates in place.

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“People ask, ‘Well, why should I get vaccinated if everyone is at risk?'” Shea said. “Because the vaccine actually does protect you from hospitalization and death, so you may still be able to contract COVID and may still be able to spread it, but it’s going to protect you from dying.”

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