Kaua‘i Officials: Surge to Get Worse Over New Years
Hawai‘i State Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Officers said on Monday COVID-19 cases are expected to rise during the holiday week, given the transmissibility of the Omicron variant and the propensity for people to gather in large groups during New Years celebrations.
With Hawai‘i already in the midst of its biggest case surge – the state is averaging 1,384 new cases a day – it will likely only get worse, they said.
“Because Omicron is so much more transmissible than Delta, we expect it to surge much high than Delta did, and more quickly,” Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai Health District officer, said during the Dec. 27 COVID-19 informational briefing.
During the peak Delta surge, Hawai‘i was averaging around 900 new cases a day, 400 less than what it averages now, Mayor Derek Kawakami said. Kaua‘i is averaging 35 new cases a week, up from 13 last week.
“The good news is, it looks like Omicron does not cause as much severe disease as Delta did,” Berreman said.
But the transmissibility of Omicron is higher than other strains, meaning more people will become infected, and therefore more people will need to be administered to the hospital despite the general severity of cases not being as dire as other strains, she added. The sheer volume of cases is straining medical resources on the mainland.
“The same could happen here in Hawai‘i,” she said.
Monoclonal antibodies haven’t proven as effective treating the new strain, Berreman added. One type of antibody has, but it’s in short supply, adding to the resource-strain.
The office announced 42 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Five clusters areas have been identified on the Garden Isle: Two social gatherings, one travel-related cluster, one construction/industrial area and one occupational gathering.
“As residents and visitors plan their new year’s celebrations, please plan to wear masks indoors, gather in small groups, gather outside, and don’t socialize if you are feeling sick,” Berreman stated in a press release issued before the informational briefing. “If you test positive for COVID, please don’t wait to hear from DOH. As soon as you get your test result, isolate yourself at home and notify your close contacts. With current case counts, DOH case investigators may not be able to call you as promptly as usual.”