The state faced two weeks of triple-digit number of cases, which health officials say are due to the highly contagious delta variant and largely affect unvaccinated people.
Gov. David Ige has warned he may have to reimpose COVID-19 restrictions if the rapid rise continues, saying he is closely monitoring hospitalizations due to the respiratory virus.
“I can assure you that at a time when I think hospitals have more patients than they could treat, we would take specific steps to restrict movement again if necessary,” Ige said on Friday during a briefing. press conference.
Hospitals have already seen a surge in patient numbers, with the number of active cases reaching 2,996 on Saturday.
Hilo Medical Center implemented a no-visit policy for its emergency department on Saturday after experiencing a surge of COVID-19 patients overnight, with hospital admissions doubling from six to 12. hospital said none of the new patients had been vaccinated.
“The hospital, which has been very busy in recent months, is approaching full capacity with limited beds available,” he said in a press release. “We are seeing a significant spike in patients needing testing, exams and treatment for COVID. “
Exceptions to the no-visit policy include pediatric patients 18 and under and “highly critical end-of-life situations,” he said. Regular visiting hours remain for hospitalized visitors, but the hospital said it is also assessing the need to change them.
Queen’s Health Systems also said on Friday it had asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to send reinforcements for nurses amid the upsurge in cases.
Queen’s said it has 45 COVID-19 patients, eight of whom are on ventilators. Most of these patients are unvaccinated and in early quarantine, Hawaii News Now reported.
“Our staff have worked tirelessly, day and night, for over a year and a half now,” said Jason Chang, president of Queen’s Medical Center. “They are optimistic, but they are tired. And so we want to make sure they get relief.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency says hospitals in the state have an ICU bed capacity of about 60% with hundreds of ventilators still available.
However, Hilton Raethel, president of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, warned that the numbers do not accurately reflect hospital capacity as they do not account for staff shortages and frontline worker burnout.
Saturday’s tally was the second highest since the pandemic began in March 2020. The highest – 622 – was on Friday, but it included earlier cases of laboratory reporting delays.
As of Saturday, the new cases included 315 in Oahu, 101 on the island of Hawaii, nine in Kauai, 42 in Maui and 18 out-of-state residents.
Hawaii’s total rose to 42,410, with 537 deaths. The seven-day positivity rate jumped to 5.5%, according to the Department of Health.
Civil Beat reporter Lauren Teruya contributed to this report.
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