HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi joined local healthcare leaders on Wednesday to update residents on the current COVID-19 conditions as well as what can be expected from the omicron variant going forward.
Hawaii reported 3,929 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the case total to 184,767.
According to Dr. Jill Hoggard Green, the Queen’s Health Systems started the day with 151 individuals who have COVID-19, with 22 patients in the ICU, a significant increase for the past two weeks. This trajectory is expected to continue for the next two to three weeks.
“With omicron, what we’re seeing is it transmits fast, lots of us get it, however, when we look at the individuals coming into the hospital, if you are vaccinated and you have a booster, we see very few of you coming into the hospital,” said Dr. Green, CEO/President of Queen’s Health Systems.
With the omicron variant being highly transmissible and more mild, health officials repeatedly said that being vaccinated and boosted make a significant difference in a person’s experience with COVID.
“Our caregivers are working incredibly hard,” Dr. Green said. “The real impact of omicron on the hospitals: it’s been on our people and that’s the biggest difference.”
She adds that about 10% of Queen’s workers have been impacted, either getting COVID-19 or been in contact with someone who has it.
“The close contact management is different than it was maybe even a few weeks ago and certainly than it was with previous variants,” said Ray Vara, CEO/President of Hawaii Pacific Health.
Vara says the hospitals are very busy, but it’s not just with COVID. It’s with other illnesses, chronic diseases, traumas and even patients who are waitlisted.
“What that means is they’re in our hospitals, they’re ready for a transition to the next level of care and those points aren’t available because they’re having staffing issues,” Vara said. “All these things combined create a very busy healthcare environment.”
Steady course, Vara says, is the message he wants to leave for everyone.
Hawaii Market President Greg Christian, Hawaii Market President for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, adds that we all need to remain vigilant.
“We are in the middle of a battle,” said Christian. “COVID-19 and omicron, it’s on our porches wanting to knock on every single door in our community.”
“I’m convinced that if every person had a chance to walk through an ICU unit and see what our nurses and doctors go through in caring for their patients, it would change a few minds,” he said. “Maybe not all, but several.”
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With all the being said, healthcare leaders believe their industry is up to the challenge and will see it through.