Lt. Gov. Green: “We are Seeing a Large Delta Surge Upon Us”
August 20, 2021, 8:56 AM HST
* Updated August 21, 1:24 AM
“We are seeing a large Delta surge upon us,” said Lieutenant Governor Josh Green during a press briefing hosted by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino on Thursday evening.
The lieutenant governor participated via teleconference saying, the state’s positivity rate has remained steady for the past week. “This is of great concern, because the number of cases as they built up over the last two or three weeks with this surge, means that we now have 8,662 individuals who are still sick in the last two weeks with COVID.”
This has resulted in capacity and staffing challenges at hospitals around the state. According to Lt. Gov. Green, “For every 100 people that catch COVID, about four individuals end up needing hospital care… That large number has meant that we’ve seen a hospital surge here in our state and on the island of Maui.”
As of Thursday afternoon, there were 355 individuals statewide in the hospital, including 33 on Maui. About 97% of all the cases are in individuals who have not completed their vaccination, said Lt. Gov. Green.
“Then, when people get sick enough, and that’s about 4.5% of all cases, people go into the hospital. In this case, 37 out of the 355 individuals have had full or partial vaccination–that’s 10.4%. The other 89.6% are not vaccinated and become very sick,” he said.
In the last two weeks, Lt. Gov. Green visited both Queens Medical Center on Oʻahu and Hawaiʻi Pacific Health Hospital/Straub.
“In those hospitals they are seeing an incredible surge where all of their Intensive Care Unit beds are filled. At Queen’s, 127 individuals are in the hospital and only 11 had any form of vaccination. At Hawaiʻi Pacific Health, 69 individuals are in the hospital and again 11 individuals have had partial or full vaccination. The people who are sickest are unvaccinated,” he said, noting that the virus is impacting a younger demographic.
He used the opportunity to make an appeal to those who still haven’t done so, to get vaccinated. “When I make this appeal to you, I don’t do it because of politics or because I’m a zealot as a physician, I don’t take this recommendation lightly. I do it because I know you have a greater chance of surviving if you are vaccinated. Very few people get severely ill if they are vaccinated,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
The lieutenant governor acknowledged the anxiety present in the community, and said it’s not just the people with COVID who are suffering, but others who cannot access care because beds space is full.
“Last weekend I was on call on the Big Island and a 74 year old gentleman who had his vaccinations–did not have COVID–came in with a severe heart attack. It took me many hours to find a hospital. I had to call 12 different hospitals, even as lieutenant governor… before ultimately he was accepted for care with a cardiologist. That could have been any of our fathers, or uncles or our grandfathers. That individual suffered greatly because we did not have space to give good care for him because our hospitals are full,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
He gave another example of a woman with breast cancer. “She’s suffering terribly, but our hospitals are full. And because of the full nature of our ICUs, they are unable to schedule her mastectomy to remove that cancer from her body. She probably will not get her surgery for at least six weeks,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
“I’m not blaming anyone. I know people have deeply personal reasons to choose whether or not to get vaccinated. I know that there’s distrust in government. I know that there’s distrust in science to some degree and a lot of people choose to use natural immunity to get through these challenges. I understand that with all of my heart. I also understand the science, and the science tells me that if you’re vaccinated, you’re much safer,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
So far, 61.5% of the population is fully vaccinated; and 69.5%, which is 988,206 people have started with a first dose. According to Lt. Gov. Green, noting the numbers do not match up completely because there are 211,000 children under the age of 12 who are not yet eligible for a vaccine. Approval for children is anticipated in October or November, according to the lieutenant governor.
“If we were vaccinated as a people across the state right now–if 95% of the people had received the vaccination instead of reporting 752 cases today, Mayor Victorino and I would report 25 cases today across the whole state. If were were mostly vaccinated as a state,” Lt. Gov. Green said, instead of reporting 352 individuals in the hospital and 71 people in the ICU and 55 on ventilators, “and reporting that people can’t get their mastectomy or treatment for a heart attack, we would have only 10 people in the hospital. We wouldn’t even be noting it on the news,” he said.
“I know you’ll still have to make a personal decision, and if you make that decision not to get vaccination, I won’t criticize you. I may be frustrated as a doctor. I may be frustrated as a father or as a person who will see other people in the hospital; but I will actually then appeal to you to do the right things–don’t gather in significant groups… please make right decisions about wearing masks… but ultimately these decisions are your own and it’s the personal responsibility for us to make them, not just for ourselves, but for our loved ones,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
“There are many perspectives out there, but having seen first-hand on numerous occasions and when I’m on call, the amount of suffering that’s going on in our state, my heart breaks to know that we could have prevented this,” he said.