Monday, Jan. 30, 2023 |
Share this story
Fifty-six Big Island residents died in 2022 from COVID-19, according to state Department of Health data.
Since the pandemic began, 222 Hawaii County residents and 1,716 statewide residents have died from COVID-19.
The death toll for the Big Island in 2022 was less than half of the 114 lives lost in 2021.
The decrease is partially attributed to increased access to vaccinations for different age groups and the release of bivalent boosters to help fight off the highly contagious omicron variant that emerged last year.
“We made a lot of progress in the fight against COVID-19 in 2022,” said DOH spokesperson Brooks Baehr. “Updated bivalent boosters were distributed statewide and are now available for everyone six months of age and older.”
In 2022, there were 103,596 vaccine doses administered in Hawaii County, including boosters. That number was as high as 319,297 for the Big Island in 2021.
“While Hawaii’s bivalent booster rate exceeds the national average, it is important more people, especially kupuna, receive boosters,” said Baehr. “People who haven’t received a booster in the past six months or haven’t yet received a bivalent booster are encouraged to get one as soon as they can.”
Hawaii County in 2022 recorded more than 26,500 COVID cases.
While access to at-home testing kits means case counts are likely much higher than reported, the tests also have helped to limit the severity and spread of COVID-19, according to the DOH.
“Highly sought after at-home COVID-19 tests, sometimes called self-tests, became easy to acquire in 2022.” said Baehr. “At-home tests gave people quick results without the expense of other clinical test options. At-home tests are still available for free at covid.gov.”
Despite the lowering deaths and decrease in overall case counts, COVID continues to spread throughout the community.
According to the latest DOH variant report, omicron subvariants BA.5 and BQ1.1 remain the dominant strains in Hawaii County, both accounting for 33% of the total cases. But as a new year progresses, new variants are being watched by the DOH, including XBB.
“Emerging variants may pose a threat in the new year,” said Baehr. “The XBB subvariant already accounts for an estimated 8% of the COVID-19 cases in Hawaii and has quickly become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in some mainland states. New variants can spread faster than their predecessors.”
Email Grant Phillips at email@example.com
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *