By: Lokelani Wilder
Coronavirus is again surging in Hawaii. On Saturday July 31, 2021, there were 482 new Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours. There are currently 45 Coronavirus cases at three Queen’s hospitals. That is about a third of all the hospital cases in the state. As for the hospitalizations at Queen’s, three weeks ago Queen has had ten cases statewide. In the past week, that number has jumped to forty-five with eight of them in intensive care units (ICU) and on ventilators.
Queen’s officials report that the admission rate right now is the same as it was last summer, but they want to avoid hospitals being near capacity. It is going to come down to ICU capacity and then hospital bed capacity.
Queens has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to send more nurses because the staff is overworked. Queen’s is asking FEMA for eighty nurses at first and hoping for an additional fifty later on. All 130 would be coming from the mainland. Queens admits their request may go unfilled because much of the country is going through a surge and are in needed of additional medical staff.
Restrictions are also being considered such as holding off on certain elective surgeries that require hospitalization. As numbers go up, Queen’s will be forced to make decisions along the way as to who gets put into ICU and on ventilators while making sure they have access for all the sick patients that absolutely need care.
Queen’s is also considering only allowing vaccinated visitors. Currently, Queen’s is only allowing one visitor per patient; however, if Coronavirus numbers keep rising, the hospital might have to allow only vaccinated visitors. Vaccinated visitors only make sense if Hawaii more community spread and thus needs to take steps to protect caregivers and other patients.
Pregnant women are getting hit particularly hard in the Delta variant wave and they were all unvaccinated. Only 16.3 percent of pregnant women nationally have been vaccinated. As overall hospitalizations rise, about 3 to 5 percent of these hospitalizations are pregnant women. With the Delta variant, patients are a lot sicker than what was seen during the first few waves of the pandemic here in Hawaii. Maternity doctors describe being caught off guard with the severity.
Some pregnant women and those of childbearing age have been hesitant about the vaccines because of concerns about infertility and the vaccine’s impact on unborn children. There have been some larger studies now that have been published recently over the past month showing that the vaccines do not affect the placenta or the afterbirth. These studies show that the vaccine itself does not get across to the baby. Other studies show the vaccine helps mothers make the antibodies that can indirectly protect her baby through breastfeeding or the umbilical cord blood. Amongst maternity doctors, largely there are no concerns of a miscarriage, still birth, or having birth defects associated with vaccines.
On the other hand, Hawaii maternity doctors report no cases where an infected mother passed the virus to her newborn child. Despite infection, hospitals do not separate mother and child. Sick mothers can wear a mask while breastfeeding and keep the bassinet six feet away from their beds. Medical literature however does show that Coronavirus hits pregnant women harder than someone who is not pregnant. They are getting less oxygen and that is going to impact the baby as well.