Question: Could you please get some updates about certain COVID-19 statistics for Hawaii? The delta variant seems to have changed the game, so I don’t want to assume that the information I read last month still holds true.
Answer: Yes, many readers are asking for updates, especially about breakthrough cases, the percentage of hospitalized patients who are unvaccinated and the percentage of cases among children. Here is information from the state Department of Health or the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, as noted in each question:
Q: What percentage of current COVID-19 patients in Hawaii hospitals were unvaccinated when they entered the hospital?
A: About 95%, Stacy Wong, a spokeswoman for the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, said in an email Wednesday. DOH Director Dr. Libby Char gave the same percentage at a news conference Thursday.
About 5% of COVID-19 patients in Hawaii hospitals were fully vaccinated when they entered the hospital, Wong said.
Note: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who recover from COVID-19 should be vaccinated against the disease. The timing of the vaccination depends on the patient’s COVID-19 treatment and other factors. In many cases, patients are told to wait 90 days after recovery to be vaccinated.
Q. What percentage of all current COVID-19 cases in Hawaii (not just hospitalized) are among the fully vaccinated? Previously, DOH has said the breakthrough rate was way less than 1%, but that was before delta arrived.
A: “Breakthrough cases continue to be rare when compared to the number of cases involving unvaccinated people. As of July 22, only .065% (less than 1%) of the fully vaccinated people in Hawaii had tested positive for COVID-19,” said Brooks Baehr, a spokesman for the state Department of Health. “There had been 539 breakthrough cases among the 826,289 fully vaccinated people in Hawaii. This means fewer than seven people per 10,000 fully vaccinated people have tested positive. That compares to 299 infections per 10,000 people in the state (all people; vaccinated and unvaccinated). The number of breakthrough cases will continue to increase as more fully vaccinated people are exposed to COVID-19.”
Q: Are breakthrough cases in Hawaii continuing to be mild (few symptoms), or are the breakthrough cases getting sicker with delta?
A: “The vaccines continue to be effective in preventing severe illness and death. There have been two breakthrough deaths, but since COVID-19 vaccines became available in Hawaii more than 98% of deaths have been unvaccinated people,” Baehr said.
“Breakthrough delta cases are not necessarily sicker than breakthrough non-delta cases,” Wong said. “However, the delta variant is responsible for a higher proportion of breakthrough cases because it is more virulent.”
Q: What percentage of all current COVID-19 cases are among minors 17 and under?
A: The Health Department doesn’t keep statistics for that exact age range, but it does for people 18 and younger — only a year off your question. That age group (0-18) accounted for an average of 21% of cases from July 22 through Wednesday. The daily percentage ranged from a low of 14% (on July 28 and 29) to a high of 27% (on July 22).
Q: What percentage of current hospitalizations are among minors 17 and under?
A: About 3%, Wong said.
Q: When the government says “Get vaccinated! Get vaccinated!” who are they talking to? It’s not me and my friends, and we all work for the state.
A: About 20% of Hawaii residents 12 and older haven’t gotten their first shot, according to the state’s COVID-19 portal. People younger than 12 are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.