Lt. Gov. Josh Green on Unvaccinated Folks as 243 New COVID-19 Cases Reported
Like many other places across the United States, Hawaiʻi is now experiencing a resurgence of coronavirus cases, rivaling the largest wave of infections seen in the islands in 2020.
On Thursday, Hawaiʻi's new coronavirus case numbers hit triple digits for the eighth straight day, repeating a post-Fourth of July surge last year.
State officials reported 243 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. The pandemic's record high was on Aug. 13, 2020, when the state reported a single-day record of 355 new cases. Three deaths from COVID-19 were also reported — two from Oʻahu and one from Maui.
Officials say the people getting infected predominately have the more contagious delta variant. And the positivity rate is now 3.5%, which is higher than it was at the same time last year.
The Conversation spoke with Lt. Gov. Josh Green about the delta variant, unvaccinated folks and more.
"You've heard it from Dr. Rochelle Wollensky (director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and others that this is a pandemic among the unvaccinated. And that's, in a sad and heartbreaking way, true," he said.
Green is also a physician and works part-time at a Hawaiʻi Island emergency room in North Kona.
"I saw, for example, a very wonderful 29-year-old and 61-year-old, both of whom were unvaccinated and caught COVID and they're quite sick," Green said Wednesday. "Our average is now up to 123. Our number in the hospital: 72. Just two weeks ago, the rate was half, the number of active cases was half the rate, and so on. So I think what I saw in the emergency room is just a reflection of what's going on in the state," he told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
Some vaccinated people have reported positive COVID-19 tests, but Green stresses those are not the majority of cases.
"Only about 3% of all of the cases that occur in people are for people who are vaccinated. 97% of the cases are for people who are unvaccinated," he said. "But it can happen and has tended to happen to older individuals whose immunity doesn't kind of surge."
He urged people to get vaccinated and help prevent more "heartbreaking stories."
"I heard a story this week of a 50-year-old gentleman, just a wonderful person I'm told, who caught COVID because he was unvaccinated, and he passed away," Green said. "He had eight daughters age from really young to in their 20s and it could have been prevented."
State officials have said they will drop all pandemic-related restrictions once 70% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Click the "Listen" button to hear his full interview. This segment aired on The Conversation on July 21, 2021.