‘We’re looking at pulling things back,’ local officials say on ‘alarming’ hospital surge

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — There were 539 new COVID cases reported on Monday, August 16, and there are now more than 300 people hospitalized with coronavirus.

Halfway through the month the state has counted just over 9,300 COVID-19 cases since Aug. 1.

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The high case counts are resulting in increased hospitalizations which are overwhelming the state’s healthcare system.

As the positivity rate and hospitalizations continue to rise, many doctors are sounding the alarm, saying action from Governor David Ige is needed now.

“I think most of us are very concerned about the state’s response because if we look around, really nothing different is happening,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, Premier Medical Group President.

He said it’s frustrating to hear Governor Ige say he continues to monitor the hospital numbers.

“We’re past the stage of looking at things,” he said. “Right now, the fire is burning, as health director Dr. Libby Char said [in the press conference on Friday], it’s happening and our ICUs are at capacity. The Big Island is at capacity. Queen’s is essentially at capacity. Hospitals are running diversion, and I don’t think we want to hear the Governor or anyone coming out to say, well, the mortuaries in the funeral homes are doing okay. We need to address this right now.”

A University of Hawaii COVID-19 model forecaster predicts numbers could triple in the coming weeks if the state doesn’t increase its vaccination rate or implement any new restrictions. Their updated model predicts daily cases could soar to over 3,500 cases by October.

“Now we’re looking at 275 to possibly 600 active hospitalizations by Sept, 5,” explained Monique Chyba, UH COVID-19 modeling forecaster. “This is what you really want to avoid.”

“If we know already hospitalizations are going to be higher, and we know already we’re at capacity, the time to act is now, not a month from now,” Dr. Miscovich added.

Some say the situation is so bad a lockdown would be the best quick fix.

“A lockdown will reduce our positivity rate in 30 days by 75%,” Dr. Miscovich said. He said the state should combine a massive testing effort in those 30 days and have high-quality tests available statewide.

“I have so many people,” Dr. Miscovich added. “We all know people that have been devastated, and they’re finally starting to get back on their feet. But they have to realize that unless we do something now, this could be so protracted and so ongoing. If we do a lockdown, let’s define it. 30 days parameter is if the numbers are below this time number, below this number. We’re open plan, update the numbers. That’s all we need. That’s what we need. We need a defined plan because the science of COVID is predictable.”

“We know what the future will hold, we don’t have to predict,” Miscovich warned. “The pediatric ICU beds are full in Dallas. They’re full in the entire state of Louisiana. We know that this will affect children more and yet we still have our schools open. We’re still seeing surges beyond what we’ve ever seen in the state. We need action. We need it now. We need it today.”

Governor Ige and county mayors had a meeting this afternoon to discuss the current situation but few details were provided.

“We’re looking at enforcement measures, we’re looking at pulling things back,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth. “Unfortunately, we’re getting to a state where it’s just not safe because of what’s happening at the hospitals with the numbers.”

He said curfews are being considered.

“But we’re also considering some other things,” he added. “It’s a place that nobody wants to go to, but it’s a place I think we’re going to have to go to right now.”

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KHON2 reached out to the governor’s office for comment and is waiting on a response.

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