HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii set a new record for hospitalizations on Friday, Jan. 21, statewide. A health official is concerned because he fears things may get worse since the COVID surge has not peaked yet.
Statewide hospitalizations tipped the scales at 2,436 Friday — a new record according to Hilton Raethel, President of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. During the delta surge in summer 2021, hospitalizations peaked at 2,365.
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“The fact that we have a record total hospitalization number (Friday), and yet we’re not yet at the peak of the omicron surge means that our hospitals with all these indicators would tell us that the hospitalization numbers are going to continue to increase probably for, at least, the next two to three weeks and maybe even longer because the peak hospitalization rate would hit after the peak infection rate,” Raethel explained.
He said 400 of those are COVID patients. During the delta surge, it reached 436. The biggest difference is that only 45 are in the ICU — that is just 11%.
However, it is still a challenge, according to Maui Health System CEO Michael Rembis.
Rembis said Maui Memorial Hospital has 218 patients — 42 for coronavirus, of which five are in the ICU.
“This variant has been very different,” Rembis added. “Although the numbers are huge, the severity of illness is much less.”
But Raethel said hospitalizations will continue to go up.
“The 14-day count is continuing to go up, and the positivity rate from the labs that we have access to is still very high which would tell us that we’re not yet, unfortunately, at the peak of this surge,” continued Raethel.
According to the latest report from Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Workgroup (HiPAM), the state should be in or near the peak of daily COVID-19 cases. However, HiPAM said that without positivity rates and accurate daily case counts, they face “significant challenges to the accuracy of modeling and forecasting.”
Dr. Libby Char, Hawaii’s State Health Director, said they stopped providing positivity rates on Jan. 16.
“There’s such a huge volume of testing data that’s coming in, it’s kind of slowing the system down as it gets processed, and so we’re going to pause on processing the negative test results temporarily,” Char explained.
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It could be a couple more weeks until that information is available again.