Researchers predict Hawaii coronavirus cases could top 1,000 by end of October if low vaccination rates persist


HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Work group has come up with COVID-19 forecasts since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Just last week, their model predicted 600 daily cases by the end of November. With the state already surpassing those numbers, they updated the model, and the results are alarming.

Based on a 65% vaccination rate, experts say we can expect to see a big jump in the numbers.

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“It goes to 1,200 cases,” said Dr. Monique Chyba, University of Hawaii Department of Mathematics professor and contributor to the study. “It comes earlier than it was projected by the end of October.”

The peak of daily cases will come, then the peak for hospitalizations will follow about two weeks later.

“Unvaccinated individuals carry the majority of the hospitalization that we’re going to see, but it goes up to almost 800 active hospitalization in November,” Dr. Chyba said.

For Hawaii Island, experts predict they’ll see their highest COVID-19 case count even earlier than expected.

“It goes also to the 700 level by mid-October, which is really concerning, because by then they’ll be completely overwhelmed,” Dr. Chyba said.

At Kona Community Hospital, officials are already preparing for the worst by setting up an emergency triage tent as a precaution. To help identify positive cases, the Hawaii Department of Health is ramping up free testing in all counties. At the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport testing site, the line to get tested wrapped around the building.

The situation is no different over on Hawaii Island.

“Now we’re testing almost every day of the week,” said Cyrus Johansen, Hawaii County spokesperson. “It’s now five to seven days a week in various locations around the island. Those initial pop ups that were open for three hours were seeing so many people that we have to set up the next day so that people could come back in order to fulfill the demand.”

The message remains clear from experts as the battle to control the ongoing pandemic continues.

“We are at the beginning of the surge,” Dr. Chyba said. “If there is no action taken, like people should go on the Aloha Safe app, and they should get the vaccine. With the hospitalizations, we’re still ramping up gently. But it might take a turn for the worst because of the rest of the iceberg we’re not seeing.”

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“Let’s not get to the point in two months where it’s too late,” said Dr. Thomas Lee, University of Hawaii assistant epidemiology professor and epidemiologist. “We’re already seeing the signs.”

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