Rise of COVID-19 cases draws concerns for medical center on Big Island

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HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — It is not just more positive cases being detected, the COVID-19 is also driving up the number of patients in hospitals.

On the Big Island, the Hilo Medical Center admitted more patients this week than it has had in months.

The State Department of Health’s Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said it is becoming clear unvaccinated residents who are traveling are coming down with the virus.

“The new trend that we’re seeing in cases this week is concerning,” Kemble said. “What we’re are seeing is a lot of spread among unvaccinated residents who traveled. We’re also seeing unvaccinated residents who have been in indoor, an indoor settings where people were not wearing masks.”

Kemble said children are also being infected as a result of exposure to unvaccinated household members.

A DOH spokesperson was not able to say how many of Friday’s 147 cases were among children. But data shows an average of 22 cases are being detected out of a 100,000 sample for ages 17 and under.

That is the second highest group being infected, behind 18 to 44 year-olds who are averaging 35 cases per 100,000.

The Hilo Medical Center’s Director of Marketing and Public & Legislative Affairs Elena Cabatu said more patients in their thirties and fifties are being admitted to the hospital due to COVID symptoms.

“The age group has gone down from the kupuna, all the way down to these days the 30 to 50 year olds,” Cabatu said. “That is also a cause for concern because these are our highly productive members of our community.”

Nine people were in the hospital to be treated for COVID-19 this week. It is the highest number of COVID patients they have admitted since October.

Cabatu said, “Considering that the week before we had four patients, one week later, just seven days later we have more than double, up to nine is a huge cause for concern.”

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