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Maui hospital staff COVID positivity rate is 7%; Limited supply of oral anti-viral therapy

The Maui Memorial Medical Center still has tents set up outside of the ER entrance. PC: by Wendy Osher (Jan. 10, 2022)

Maui COVID-19 hospitalizations rise to 36

Hospitalizations on Maui rose to 36 on Friday, up from 26 on Thursday afternoon. Maui Health representatives say that 17 of the 36 are vaccinated, five are in the ICU, and one is on a ventilator.

“MMMC’s census is very busy with COVID and non-COVID patient needs,” said Maui Health spokesperson Tracy Dallarda.

According to Dallarda, about 12 FEMA nurses are scheduled to arrive next week to assist with COVID-patient care. “We expect Maui County COVID-19 positivity numbers to rise, which may eventually impact the hospital.  We ask the community to please continue to take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones, including receiving the vaccine and/or the booster dose,” she said.

In Maui County, the seven day average for new cases daily is 469, with a 22.0% test positivity rate over 14 days. This is +151% from Dec. 30, 2021-Jan. 12, 2022. For every 100,000 residents in Maui County, there have been an average of 280.0 newly reported cases per day over a seven day period.

Dr. Michael Shea, chief medical director for Maui Health and co-lead for the Emergency Operations Center team commented during an afternoon press briefing hosted by the mayor, saying, “When I look at the data, the positivity rate has been sort of bouncing up and down a little bit. [A] 22% [test positivity rate] is still pretty high… The number today was definitely lower. The seven day average has come down. Most of the surges that we’ve seen in other places have not resolved this quickly. And there have been sort of secondary bounces, so Iʻm just being cautious. I would love to be wrong,” he said of his statement yesterday, “I do not believe Maui County’s COVID-19 numbers have peaked.”

Mayor: Early case count for tomorrow is near 1,000

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said he has been informed by Maui District Health Officer, Dr. Lorrin Pang and the state Department of Health that due to lag time with the laboratories, and understaffing, and the large number of tests being run, that “tomorrow the early count for Maui County is 1,000.”

“Even though we have 300 today, if you average it out, weʻre right back to where we were–about 600 a day,” said Mayor Victorino. “Itʻs not to make people feel good or bad, weʻre just not out of the woods yet.”

Statewide, there are 347 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Friday, (Down -23% from a peak of 448 on Sept. 4), according to an update from Lieutenant Governor Josh Green. He notes that are 37 people in the ICU statewide (about half the rate of delta). The state’s positivity rate is now at 19.9%.

During the delta surge, hospitalizations at Maui Health rose to 41 COVID-19 positive patients in mid-August. On Aug. 23, of the 40 hospitalizations at Maui Health on that day, five were in the ICU and two were on ventilators.

“Things are starting to increase significantly and quickly… One good thing is we’re not seeing the level of severity of illness that we had seen previously. But with the sheer numbers of positives we’re seeing, people are ending up hospitalized, so it’s keeping us very busy,” said Dr. Shea.

Positivity rate among hospital staff is 7%

According to Dr. Shea, staffing rates are affected. “The community rate is 22%, so our staff live in the community. We are seeing positives. Thankfully because of the vaccine mandates that we’ve had, we do not have people that have severe illness, and actually many people have not contracted the disease. So our positivity rate among our staff is somewhere around 7%.”

“The good news is that through the generosity of the mayor through his hard work, as well as some work in our hospital working through contingency nursing staffing companies, we have some contingency staffing to arrive this week, and we have FEMA nurses arriving next week,” said Dr. Shea.

“Our growth in positive cases at the hospital is becoming very steep. And if you look back, it’s lagging about two weeks behind when the steep curve started for the community. So even when we do hit our peak, which we haven’t yet, (I don’t think), remember the hospital’s numbers are going to lag a couple weeks behind that. So when the community is starting to see relief, we’re still going to be having an increase in numbers,” said Dr. Shea.

He continued to emphasize the same suggestions that were made since the start of the pandemic–“mask up, watch your distance, hand sanitize… and if you don’t have to go out, I’m going to ask you this holiday weekend, please don’t–for us… So that those of you who need health care that isn’t related to COVID, we have plenty of space to do that for you. Right now we’re doing alright. We’re holding our own, but we don’t want to get to the place where things get stretched too thin,” said Dr. Shea.

COVID-19 Therapy / Treatment Options:

For those that have contracted COVID-19, there are outpatient treatment therapies available for qualified, high-risk individuals.

“We were doing the monoclonal antibody known as REGENCOV or Regeneron for many weeks. It’s been shown that’s not really effective against omicron, so across the state we’ve stopped using it. We do have other therapies available, a couple of which are emergency use oral therapies. These are much more complicated than the monoclonal antibody was. They have drug/drug interactions, there are certain disease states that the doses have to be adjusted or can’t be used, so it’s a very complex process that we’ve set up to try and figure out who is most needing medication, and which of the medications can they have.”

“The federal government, through the state, has distributed these to the hospitals only. So we’re the only site that’s able to dispense it,” said Dr. Shea. “I would say we recommend physician referral because it is a complex process.”

Maui Health is now offering oral antiviral treatment and monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy for qualified individuals.

“At this time our supply is very limited, and requests are being reviewed carefully to ensure treatment is provided to COVID-positive individuals at the highest risk for severe illness. We are accepting self-referrals, but physician referrals are highly recommended,” said Dallarda.

To review the details of these treatments, visit mauihealth.org/covidtreatments.  If interested in accessing treatment, the COVID-19 Treatment Referral form must be completed and submitted. Once submitted, the Maui Health physician team will review the referral form for qualification criteria and follow-up as necessary.

“With the expected continued increase in cases in Maui County, Maui Health is again reminding community members to get vaccinated and if you qualify, do not wait to get your booster dose,” according to hospital representatives.

Maui Health maintains that, “Vaccines continue to be the best way forward for our community, offering the highest level of protection, and especially when used in combination with strict masking and hand-washing protocols, and avoiding large groups or social events.”

The Maui Memorial Medical Center, Main Lobby Vaccine Clinic is open:

  • Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • No appointment needed; walk-ins are welcome during clinic hours.
  • Administering first, second, third and booster doses to all qualified individuals.
    • To qualify for a booster dose, you must be at least 12 years old or older and five months past your second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two months past your single dose of Johnson & Johnson.
  • Pediatric dose available for ages 5 to 11.
    • Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

For additional information about other test sites or vaccination clinics, visit mauinuistrong.info. 

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2022/01/14/maui-hospital-staff-covid-positivity-rate-is-7-limited-supply-of-oral-anti-viral-therapy/

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