By: T. Jeffersonian
This week has seen a spike in Hawaii’s Coronavirus cases. Before Spring Break, Hawaii average cases were around 49 or less per day. This week, cases are up, with 122 positive cases on Thursday, March 25, and 125 on Friday, March 26. Hawaii’s average daily case count this week is 80 cases. The increase in cases is not affecting our hospitals, because Hawaii is seeing increasing cases among more young people, the group between 30 to 50 has gone up, but a serious drop off for people who are 65 and older.
Hawaii is currently in a modified Tier 3 model; however, the daily case average rise should put us back the more restrictive Tier 2 model. Despite the increases in daily cases, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi reported that it would have to take something very, very extreme to go back to Tier 2. When looking at death rates and hospitalizations and right now, Hawaii would actually in a Tier 4 model. Blangiardi said, there is no need to panic as it stands and he has no plans to tighten things up. Blangiardi made a number of adjustments to the tier system since February by allowing youth sports, reopening bars, and adding weddings to the Tier 3 list. When making the modifications, Blangiardi said that he knew the financial benefits it meant for so many people and families.
Blangiardi also said the having the vaccine changes how the state and city looks at restrictions. Both city and state are less concerned about the case count than they would have been three months ago. The vaccines are helping the state contain the most violent parts of this disease. Hawaii is currently averaging about 10,000 vaccinations a day. 17.1 percent of the state has been fully vaccinated. Another 12 percent has received at least one vaccine dosage. The state needs to get to 70-85 percent of the population being vaccinated to achieve herd immunity.
It is still possible to get Coronavirus after receiving a vaccination, but a breakthrough case is extremely rare. Researchers looked at more than 28,000 health-care workers in California who were fully vaccinated during the surge of cases earlier this year. Only seven of them — 0.02 percent — tested positive for the Coronavirus after more than two weeks had passed since they received their second dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. Those who did have a positive test were either asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms.
Best practice for Hawaii residents, until herd immunity is reached, is to get fully immunized as soon as possible and to practice social distancing and masking until herd immunity is achieved. Remember, Coronavirus can exist for up to three days on plastic and metal surfaces, so disinfect areas and utensils continually. We do need our government to do a few things. Hawaii currently is using 74 percent of the vaccines that are distributed. We need to increase those numbers into the upper 80 percentiles to be on par with the states having the best distribution-to-administration percentages. Our government must also be looking at where more severe Coronavirus variants are spreading.
Today, Wisconsin is reporting Brazilian and South African variants in that state. Both of these variants are more evasive to vaccines and antibodies than are the novel, United Kingdom, and New York variants. We already have had one case of the Brazilian Coronavirus reported in Hawaii. Until we get specific vaccines designed for these variants, we need to continue watching and potentially restricting travel from those infected areas to the state.
Compared to March 2020, March 2021 had over 200,000 visitors to the state. In 2020, even as the Coronavirus was started to lock travel down, there was over 800,000 visitors to Hawaii during Spring Break. Based on those numbers, Hawaii’s tourism-based economy is operating at only a quarter of its full potential. We have to keep Coronavirus going down and herd immunity going up so that we can return Hawaii to economic and social optimization and openness and return us all to pre-pandemic normalcy.