By: Lokelani Wilder
On Saturday, August 7, 2021, Hawaii reported 615 new Coronavirus infections. During the past week, Coronavirus hospitalizations throughout the state have increased from 45 to 195. Last week, 8 of the 45 Coronavirus patients were in Intensive Care Units (ICU) on ventilators. Though the number of Coronavirus patients in ICUs on ventilators was not given today, it can be expected that that number has also risen over the past seven days.
Hawaii has a capacity of 3,000 hospital beds. Governor Ige and state mayors have consistently reported that reinstatement of social restrictions depends upon available hospital bed capacity. During the height of the second surge, Hawaii filled at least 2,000 beds. Elected officials warn that they will not wait until Hawaii reaches capacity before reinstating restrictions but will instead do so earlier.
In addition to hospital beds, Hawaii’s capacity to care for Coronavirus patients is also limited by nurses. On average, a nurse can attend to five patients. Unfortunately, the workload associated with Coronavirus patients increased and thus reduces the average to one nurse for every three patients. Last week, Hawaii requested an additional 130 travel nurses from the mainland; however, no indications have been given if and when these nurses will arrive. Last year more than 230 travel nurses came to Hawaii and worked. They cost the state just under $20 million.
This week, Honolulu Rick Blangiardi limited social gatherings to 25 people but stated that at this time, reversing the city’s tier posture is not under consideration. Though not under consideration, neither Mayor Blangiardi, the Governor, or other officials have ruled out more restrictions.
This past week, Hawaii public schools began the new 2021-2022 school year. Thus far, no Coronavirus related issues have been reported for any of the state’s schools.
Governor Ige has announced a state-employee vaccine mandate. The state’s 13,000 employees must either get the vaccines or take two Coronavirus tests weekly. These tests will be paid for by the employee. Several unions released a statement encouraging vaccines while complaining that Ige’s mandate was executed without union consultation beforehand.
The military on island was expecting a similar Department of Defense mandate for all active-duty personnel; however, the mandate never materialized. There are 42,000 active-duty personnel in Hawaii. It is now expected that the Defense Department will wait 30 days until early September when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to officially approve the Coronavirus vaccines. Currently, Coronavirus vaccines are being administered via an FDA approved Emergency Use Authorization (EAU). This EAU requires recording all deaths associated with having received an EAU vaccine or other similarly approved drug. Currently there have been over 4,100 deaths recorded for persons having received the vaccines; however, only around 10 have been directly attributed to adverse reactions caused by the vaccines themselves.
President Biden approved the student loan payment deferments until January 2022. After the Eviction Moratorium expired last week, Governor Ige announced a state-wide Eviction Moratorium earlier in the week. Within 24 hours of Governor Ige’s announcement, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a pandemic eviction moratorium. Governor Ige characterized the CDC’s moratorium as being applicable to all of Hawaii.
Currently, some 60.6 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated, while 67.8 percent have received at least one dose. The vaccinated and unvaccinated percentages of the 655 new cases announced today was not provided due to state policies prohibiting the public disclosure of such information.