HONOLULU (KHON2) — As of Saturday, Sept. 4, there are roughly 430 COVID-positive patients hospitalized statewide.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green said about 13% of those patients are vaccinated.
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Kauai resident Dayne Woodward Jr. is one of those patients currently battling the coronavirus.
Woodward Jr. said he got both of his Pfizer vaccine shots in May.
He said he felt safe going on with his life because he was fully vaccinated, even though the highly contagious delta variant was silently spreading in his community.
“If people think, ‘I can’t catch it,’ that’s wrong, that’s totally, totally wrong,” Woodward Jr. said. “I thought ‘oh I’m vaccinated I’m not going to get it,’ nope, the wrong idea.”
He said he does not know how or where he caught the coronavirus but said he started feeling sick last weekend.
“I worked through the weekend, and then next thing I know, I ended up checking into the ER, and I just thought I had the flu,” he said.
His symptoms ranged from body aches to feeling like he had a sinus infection. On Tuesday, Aug. 31, he was put in a room at Wilcox Medical Center where he took a COVID test.
“They said they had to switch me rooms, they had to put me in an ICU because I had tested positive for COVID,” he said.
Wilcox Medical Center said its COVID unit is an extension of the ICU, where skilled staff and advanced equipment are nearby and COVID patients can be closely monitored should their condition change and they need a higher level of care.
He said the biggest challenge has been knowing he gave the virus to his one-and-a-half-year-old niece who lives with him.
“It makes it even harder for me to kind of, you know, focus on trying to be better because I’m worried about her,” Woodward Jr. said.
He said his niece is doing OK, but his fully vaccinated aunt who also lives with him tested positive too.
“This thing is worse now than it was before, I think it’s just getting around so fast,” he said of the delta variant.
He said he understood there was still a possibility that he could catch the virus even though he was fully vaccinated.
“Because I have diabetes, I probably could have been a lot worse than I really am, if I didn’t get vaccinated,” he continued.
“Firsthand, I finally realized this is not a joke.”
Woodward Jr. said it is scary being healthy and fine one day to being alone in an ICU bed the next.
“In a blink of an eye, you can just be, you know, here and then done,” he said. “It can get depressing, because I’m by myself, but I mean when I did my first live on TikTok the other night, I mean, I was really overwhelmed with so much response that I had support.”
He said support from friends and strangers helped him fight harder.
He said regardless of vaccination status people need to be careful, wear a mask, sanitize, keep a distance and said if people decide to gather, do so responsibly especially if you live with loved ones — young or old.
“If this helps to get more people aware of what’s going on, you know, we’re not superhuman. It’s possible to get it no matter how healthy you think you are,” he said.
Although he is fully vaccinated and understood he could still catch the virus, he said he does not believe vaccines should be forced upon anyone. “If you want to take it, take it. If you don’t want to take it, you don’t, but I guess, you just need to kind of know the basics of how to handle yourself so that you don’t catch it, or you don’t spread it.”
Doctors said breakthrough infections will increase as vaccination rates do too.
And about 87% to 90% of COVID patients currently hospitalized statewide are unvaccinated.
“My prayers are with that guy, you know, that’s what we’re seeing people with diabetes, lung disease or heart disease is proving to be more vulnerable,” said Lt. Gov. Green on some breakthrough hospitalizations.
“If that gentleman was not vaccinated, I would worry for his life, he probably will come through it, hopefully, because of the vaccination, it’s tending to keep the disease a little less severe,” he explained.
Health officials said the average hospital stay for a vaccinated COVID patient is three to five days, whereas unvaccinated COVID patients can be hospitalized three weeks or longer.
Sunday, Sept. 5, will be Woodward Jr.’s fifth day in the hospital, and nurses said he will likely be discharged.
He is happy he will be able to spend his 47th birthday at home on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
Get more coronavirus news: COVID vaccines, boosters and Safe Travels information
Doctors encourage anyone who is not feeling well to stay home, do not go to work and get tested.