HONOLULU (KHON2) — COVID-19 infections are reaching a plateau but two subvariants of omicron could cause another surge according to the health department.
Hawaii Department of Health State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said omicron is still the dominant variant in Hawaii, which may provide some immunity against two subvariants of omicron continuing to spread on the mainland.
“We’ll continue to see an increase or sort of takeover of the ecology of COVID in Hawaii by those variants,” Dr. Kemble explained. “Whether that will cause another surge is less certain. In some countries and jurisdictions that has been the case.”
Dr. Kemble said immunity built up during the recent omicron surge may help prevent another surge.
But reinfections are common.
“We don’t have accurate numbers on reinfection,” explained Dr. Kemble. “That being said, we do know from reports to us that people tell us they’ve had COVID before and this is a common phenomenon. So reinfection is something that is happening.”
According to Dr. Kemble, hospitalization rates will continue to be a key indicator in the spread of the disease.
On Wednesday there were 164 people hospitalized with COVID with a seven-day rolling average of 183 according to the Hawaii Emergency Management.
The HDOH reported 20 COVID deaths last week.
Dr. Kemble said that it is likely due to delayed reporting by the hospitals. But added that deaths are a lagging indicator of the surge that happened in May and June. Dr. Kemble also said the overwhelming majority are older.
Dr. Kemble said, “over the entire pandemic, over 90% have been among people 50 and older.”
Taking steps to protect yourself by wearing a mask indoors and social distancing can still help prevent the spread of the virus. But according to Dr. Kemble, the best protection is getting vaccinated and boosted.
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Dr. Kemble said, “we do know that boosters provide protection against severe outcomes from COVID, including hospitalization and death, it is really important to go and get that booster — especially for those older age groups.”