HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii still has the lowest fatality rate in the country but deaths are quickly rising and young people are dying too.
In August, there were 52 COVID-related deaths statewide. Three were in their 30s, four of the deaths were in their 40s, eight were in their 50s, nine were in their 60s, 19 were in their 70s and nine were 80 years old or older.
September is already off to a grim start. There have been 63 COVID-related deaths in the first 11 days of the month.
The youngest death was a man in his 20s, six residents in their 30s have died, four who were in their 40s, 15 who were in their 50s, 15 who were in their 60s, 11 in their 70s and 11 who were 80 or older.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the uptick is due to the State’s huge surge in coronavirus cases.
“The greater challenge is that we have 84 people in the intensive care unit and 72 people on ventilators, so about 50% of each of the people on a ventilator end up passing away,” he explained. “So we can expect about 30 to 40 fatalities in the next, you know, 10 days to two weeks.”
As of Thursday, Sept. 9, there were 136 COVID patients hospitalized within the Queen’s Health Systems. According to Queens’ data, all 34 COVID ICU patients and all 33 COVID patients on ventilators were unvaccinated.
Green said as of Saturday, Sept. 11, there were 393 COVID patients hospitalized.
“We are now seeing the hospital numbers begin to drift down, although part of it is heartbreak because people are passing away,” he said.
“It’s very tough times and so everyone’s working overtime, including mortuary services,” he said. “The best thing we can do is make that choice to get vaccinated or asked our loved ones and friends to get vaccinated.”
The City’s Medical Examiner’s Office is also overwhelmed. The City said the morgue can hold up to 60 bodies and 50 bodies can be stored in one of its mobile trailers. As of Friday evening, Sept. 10, only one trailer was in use.
“I do anticipate that will change shortly,” said Charlotte Carter, the City medical examiner’s acting supervising investigator. “I can’t predict things, I can’t say when or if funeral homes pick up and people have services, then we may not need that second trailer, but really just at the pace we’re going we’ll probably need that trailer in the next week or two is my best guess.”
Not only are more cases coming in, but she also said some family members are being held until proper arrangements can be made.
“If someone is COVID positive, their families are probably under quarantine and not able to go to a funeral home to make arrangements or due to the restrictions in place, they’re not wanting to make those arrangements until a time where they can have a true celebration with everyone who cares about that person,” she explained.
FEMA does have funeral reimbursments if the death is COVID-related but Carter said the reimbursements require a death certificate.
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“In order to get a certificate, a family needs to have a funeral,” she said.