Saturday, March 02, 2024 |
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Hawaii Island reported 128 new COVID-19 cases and one new coronavirus-related death between Nov. 15 and Monday.
The death was among a man over age 80 who had not been hospitalized, according to the state Department of Health, which releases weekly COVID-19 data on Wednesdays. The victim also had underlying health conditions.
The octogenarian’s death was among 10 fatalities reported across the state during the seven days including Monday. Seven were on Oahu, one was on Maui and one was among a woman over age 80 traveling outside the state.
To date, the state has reported 1,732 coronavirus-related deaths since the state began tracking COVID data in late February 2020. Nearly 73% — or 1,264 — of the deaths have been among Oahu residents. Hawaii County has reported 220 deaths, or just under 13% of the fatalities statewide.
The majority of the 128 new cases reported over the past seven days on Hawaii Island were based in the population centers of Hilo and Kailua-Kona. The island is averaging about 17 cases per day, down from 19 last week.
Statewide, 1,169 new COVID-19 cases reported in the seven days ending Monday for an average of 149 cases per day. The state’s seven-day positivity rate was 5.5%, well above Hawaii Island’s 4.5%. The state reported 15 new COVID-related hospitalizations Wednesday bringing the total number of patients receiving care to 56; six are in ICU beds.
Meanwhile, 78% of the state’s population has received at least two shots of the COVID-19 vaccination and 41.2% have received a booster shot. Just 14.8% of Hawaii residents — or 211,017 — have received the bivalent booster. Hawaii Island’s rate of vaccination is lower than the state with 70% having completed the initial two shots, 35% receiving a booster and just 13% opting for the bivalent booster.
That’s despite health officials this week saying that Americans who got the updated COVID-19 booster shots are better protected against symptomatic infection than those who haven’t — at least for now.
Updated boosters rolled out by Pfizer and rival Moderna in September have been a hard sell for vaccine-weary Americans. Only about 13% of U.S. adults so far have gotten a “bivalent” shot that targets the omicron strain and the original coronavirus. On Tuesday, White House officials announced a renewed push for more Americans to get the latest shots.
The first look at the new shots’ real-world effectiveness shows they work, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
Speaking at a White House briefing expected to be his last before he retires from the government at the end of year, Fauci said what “may be the final message I give you from this podium is that please, for your own safety, for that of your family, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you’re eligible.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed about 360,000 COVID-19 tests given to people with coronavirus-like symptoms at drugstores around the country between September, when the new boosters rolled out, and early November. Researchers compared the vaccination status of those who wound up having COVID-19 with those who didn’t.
The new omicron-targeting booster added 30% to 56% protection against symptomatic infection, depending on how many prior vaccinations someone had, how long ago and their age, the CDC concluded.
The original shots have offered strong protection against severe disease and death no matter the variant, but protection against mild infection wanes. CDC’s analysis tracked only the first few months of the new boosters’ use so it’s too early to know how long added protection against symptomatic infection lasts.
But “certainly as we enter the holiday season, personally I would want the most possible protection if I’m seeing my parents and grandparents,” Link-Gelles said. “Protection against infection there is going to be really helpful, because you potentially would stop yourself from getting a grandparent or other loved one sick.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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