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HMC Reports Spike in COVID-19 Hospitalizations

By Tiffany DeMasters
July 16, 2021, 9:02 AM HST
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COVID-19 hospitalizations at Hilo Medical Center have more than doubled within the past week, officials confirmed Thursday, July 15.

The rise in hospitalizations coincides with the Department of Health’s confirmation of the rapid spread of the COVID-19 delta variant throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Fifty-three additional delta variant cases have been detected since June statewide. Of that number, 14 cases were reported on Hawaii Island with an increase of one on June 25.

“DOH officials said that it was likely an undercount of the highly contagious variant and that the numbers would likely grow,” HMC officials stated.

On July 8, HMC was treating four COVID-positive patients. About a week later, the number jumped to 9, the highest hospitalized cases since October 2020.

HMC spokesperson Elena Cabatu said it was not confirmed whether the current hospitalizations are delta variant cases.

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As of Thursday, July 15, HMC is treating seven COVID-positive patients, two are in the intensive care unit, two are in the COVID unit and three are in the medical unit. One of the patients in ICU is on a ventilator.

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Six of the individuals are unvaccinated and one is inoculated against the virus.

“It’s been unnerving to say the least to see numbers going up,” Cabatu said, noting this increase in cases could set Hawaii Island’s working families back.

The difference between last October and the recent cases is that infections are occurring in younger ages ranging from 30- to 50-year-olds, HMC officials state.

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“Vast majority of hospitalized patients for COVID are still unvaccinated. Statewide we are 58% fully vaccinated with Hawai‘i County lagging at 55%,” HMC officials say.

On Thursday, the state reported 166 new COVID cases, the highest single-day increase of cases since January 2021.

More than 48,000 Pfizer vaccines have been administered by Hilo Medical Center since December 23. Cabatu continues to encourage people to get their shot if they have not yet done so.

For more information on where to get a COVID-19 vaccine, click here.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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