At least two people, including a 37-year-old Waikiki bartender, are on life support and ventilators in Hawaii hospitals due to the new coronavirus.
Six people are in the intensive care unit as the number of new coronavirus cases jumped by 29 from Sunday to 204, the vast majority of them local residents, state health officials said at a news conference Monday.
Of the 29 new cases, one is a child, while the rest are adults over the age of 18, including a TSA screening officer at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Roughly 60 individuals are now considered recovered.
The virus is now spreading in localized areas among residents, though state Health Director Bruce Anderson has declined to disclose specifically where the transmission of COVID-19 is occurring in the community.
To date, there have been 8,700 lab tests, most of them conducted by private laboratories. State and private labs can now test up to 1,500 people a day, the third-highest rate in the nation, officials said.
Lt. Gov Josh Green warns that if people do not listen to the government’s social distancing rules, Hawaii could see 8% more cases in two days, 15% more cases four days later and 43% more cases on the sixth day.
“If we are not perfect in our ability to social distance and to stay at home … this is how fast it goes bad for us,” Green said. “Those 43% more cases represents hundreds of people that will test positive for COVID-19. That is how we lose. That’s how people die in the state of Hawaii.”
He is estimating the peak in the number of coronavirus cases is about three weeks away.
“Though our kupuna are more susceptible to dying … it does not mean people are safe if they are younger,” he added. “Nobody is safe. That’s why we all have to flatten the curve together.”
The state only has 2,757 total hospital beds, 338 ICU beds and 534 available ventilators.
If individuals ignore the advice to quarantine at home, “we outstrip our capacity to care for people,” Green said. “Just 400 or 500 people needing a ventilator will exceed our capacity to keep people alive.”
The state is now allowing out-of-state physicians and nurses to practice in Hawaii, and promoting telehealth, or virtual medicine over the phone or online.
In addition, University of Hawaii researchers are working on ways that ventilators — which help patients in respiratory distress get oxygen — can be split so that four people can use one at the same time, Green said. The state, preparing for a surge in demand for medical care, is also considering converting the Hawai‘i Convention Center and Neal S. Blaisdell Center into health care facilities.
Of all the confirmed cases in Hawaii since the start of the outbreak, 12 have required hospitalization. The statewide total includes 139 cases on Oahu, 25 in Maui County, 15 on Hawaii island and 12 in Kauai County. Eleven others are pending identification of county, and two residents were diagnosed out of state. There are no reported deaths.
Gov. David Ige is requiring interisland travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days from April 1 through 30, with the exception of essential workers, matching the policy for domestic and international arrivals. The government also has imposed statewide restrictions on Hawaii residents in an attempt to slow the spread of the disease, and had earlier asked tourists to stay away.
“We’re capable of beating this,” Green said. “The best thing you can do in the state of Hawaii as a citizen to save the lives of our kupuna is to please stay at home … through April 30. Only go out when you absolutely need to. (Then) we will be able to get out of this alive.”