More Hawaii hospitals add triage tents as coronavirus hospitalizations continue to rise


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Many hospitals are full, some are over capacity, staff are working overtime and Queen’s Medical Center is the latest hospital to add an alternative care site to deal with the increase in COVID-19 patients.

There are nearly 300 COVID-19 patients in hospitals; earlier Thursday there were 282 patients and by the evening there were 275. Health officials said about 90% of them were unvaccinated.

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Hospitalizations have increased 600% since July 1, when there were just 40 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.

Of the 282 in the hospital Thursday morning, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said half of them were under the age of 50.

“We have seen people in their 20s and 30s die of COVID, which is unbelievable,” Green said.

“When people are out there, protesting and saying, don’t worry about vaccinations, don’t press me on it, I worry about them very much, because I don’t think that they are in touch with the reality of this virus, which is it can make you very sick, especially if you have hypertension, or diabetes, in your 30s a lot of people do in Hawaii, those individuals are very vulnerable,” he continued.

Health officials said the vaccinated individuals who end up in the hospital are typically older with underlying health issues and are in the hospital for three to five days.

“Whereas the unvaccinated individuals are overwhelmingly much sicker, are in for much longer periods of time, and can be in hospital for three to four weeks,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii CEO.

He said there is one unvaccinated COVID-19 patient who has been in the hospital for 90 days.

It is common for hospital emergency rooms to be on rolling divert, which means hospital emergency rooms are reaching capacity at different times of the day, but Green said that has a huge impact on when neighbor islands beds could be available for non-COVID-19 patients.

“I imagine it will be difficult to transfer someone if they’ve had a stroke or a heart attack,” he said. “So this virus doesn’t just affect us if we catch COVID or don’t catch COVID, it’s filling up the hospitals to the point where the team, the nursing team, for the most part, are fully occupied.”

The State is bringing in additional staff funded by FEMA as early as Saturday, Aug. 14, so hospitals can expand their capacity.

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“We still have a way to go yet before we get through the worst of this surge and we can really open back fully open back up for anyone who does need the care but if someone needs care, we will take care of them,” explained Raethel. “But we are having to do some prioritization at this point in time.”

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