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Healthcare Association says it's still too early to tell if omicron has peaked

AP Photo/Eric Gay, File

The COVID-19 case count on Monday was 2,660 — still high, but lower than the record daily case reports seen in previous weeks.

Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii's president and CEO, says it's still too early to tell if the omicron variant has peaked.

"There's some indication that it is the peak, but just because it's a peak doesn't mean we're through this. We may have reached the peak of infections, but typically the rate of hospitalizations continues to increase for seven to 10, or even 14 days after the peak of the infections," Raethel said.

"That means the worst of the hospitalizations, or the highest number of hospitalizations, is potentially still in front of us," he said.

Including patients who tested positive for COVID through routine screening but were not admitted due to COVID, Raethel said at the end of last week there were just over 400 COVID hospitalizations.

"We haven't yet gotten quite as high as the peak of the delta surge, which was 436 COVID hospitalizations, but we are fairly close. So it is possible that we will get to that number," Raethel told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green reported 51 COVID patients in intensive care units on Monday. Compared to the delta surge, Raethel said fewer COVID patients are requiring that level of care.

"That's very good news because it means that the people who are in hospital because of omicron, generally are not as sick as they were during the delta surge," Raethel said. "It means we have less people on ventilators, less people on high flow oxygen. And that is very good news because again, they're less sick."

Additional nurses funded by the FEMA reimbursement program arrived in the islands this weekend, bringing the total to more than 700. The state had asked for more than 900 in anticipation of staffing issues.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 24, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Sophia McCullough is a digital news producer. Contact her at news@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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