As COVID cases peak, health experts brace for surge in hospitalizations

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A new pandemic forecast said Hawaii is turning a corner on Omicron with some counties already reaching their peak COVID cases this week.

University of Hawaii researchers with Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling said Oahu hit its peak number of new infections on Tuesday and that Kauai peaked on Thursday.

Researchers said Hawaii County is expected to top out on Sunday while Maui will see cases rising until Monday.

“Oahu has been ahead of everybody. We’re seeing cases peak, and so now Maui and neighbor islands are a little bit lagged,” said Thomas Blamey, HIPAM Maui representative.

With infections peaking, HIPAM predicts hospitalization peaks will come a week to 10 days later.

Pandemic forecasters said Oahu could see about 400 COVID hospitalizations by then of January while Kauai could reach about 20. Hawaii County and Maui County are predicted to reach 150 hospitalizations in February.

But while hospitalizations haven’t peaked yet, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino said hospitals on the island are already reaching a tipping point.

In a press conference on Friday, he confirmed that Maui Memorial Medical Center is at capacity with little ability to expand.

“Even though we’re getting help from FEMA and traveling nurses will be coming next week, we are not near close to the necessary personnel to continue this stress level,” Victorino said.

“There are places they can put additional beds, however they are not conducive to people who are very ill and really more importantly they don’t have the staff to continue to meet that demand.”

Victorino said he is not reinstating any more restrictions at this time, but urged all residents and visitors to get vaccinated.

Maui County’s rule requiring a booster for in-person dining and other venues takes effect on Monday.

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