HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii broke its record for the highest number of COVID infections in a single day on Friday, Dec. 24, as the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) recorded 1,828 infections and a 9.0% positivity rate.

“This increase in both positivity rate and the infection rate is far steeper than anything we’ve seen,” said Hilton Raethel, Hawaii Healthcare Association of Hawaii president.

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He also said they have requested 700 FEMA clinicians to return to Hawaii if hospitals get overwhelmed once again, and the first wave would arrive on Jan. 10, 2022.

“This is not catch up [numbers], so what this tells us is that we actually will continue to see even higher daily infection rates and positivity rates, which are all indicative of widespread incidents of omicron.”

Hilton Raethel, Hawaii Healthcare Association of Hawaii president

The state has reported nearly the same number of COVID infections in the past 48 hours (3,339 cases) than in the entire month of November (3,369 cases).

As of Dec. 24, omicron cases have only been detected on Oahu, but the neighbor islands are seeing a jump in cases too.

“We haven’t detected omicron yet here on Kauai, but the pattern of disease increase certainly tells me that it’s here and that we should assume it’s here,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai District Health officer.

“I think we can assume it’s everywhere in the state, unfortunately.”

Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai District Health officer

Dr. Berreman said most of the coronavirus cases are due to community spread and people gathering.

Health officials encourage people to celebrate Christmas outdoors in a small group. They are also asking people to wear a mask indoors, as well as make sure anyone aged 60 and older or who have underlying health issues have gotten a booster shot.

“It’s safer to gather with your household members in relatively small groups, and anyone whose feeling sick at all really should not attend any gathering,” explained Dr. Berreman.

Additionally, breakthrough infections and hospitalizations are both on the rise. On Friday, there were 81 people hospitalized with COVID — which is up 50% from the third week of December.

“The hospitalization rate after Christmas and probably around the middle of next week will start to increase even further,” Raethel noted.

Raethel also said breakthrough hospitalizations are up. As of Dec. 24, there were 33 fully vaccinated people — without boosters — hospitalized.

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“The timing of omicron is not good, and we absolutely believe that the worst of this particular surge is in front of us, and we may not even see it until after New Year’s, so the first couple of weeks in January could be very, very concerning for us here in Hawaii,” Raethel added.