24 Nov – Like the US, the first outbreak of the respiratory syncytial virus, or ARV, was in Hawaii, and the season was intense. The two respiratory viruses, along with the 19th COVID, present a triple threat during the weekend meetings.
As Hawaii families gather for Thanksgiving, health officials are asking folks to take extra care around those at risk of more serious illness from infections.
That includes kupuna ages 60 and older and those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 with the primary or recently boosted series.
Public Health Director Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Char said in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” on Monday that every family should look at the dangers.
“So we don’t want to live in fear, but we also want to be reasonable,” he said. “This is the case with how many people are going to be at risk, and if the elders in the family are at risk of health, it is necessary to be extra careful around them.”
Char said that anyone who is sick or has experienced a runny nose or cough should stay home to avoid exposing them to those around them, and it is hoped that those collected today have already acquired covid-19 and flu shots.
“Please–we have shots running, we have shots available,” said Char. “It’s free. Go get your shot done, especially if you had your shot six months ago or more.”
As in the US, the respiratory syncytial virus, or ARV, was an accident in Hawaii, and the season was intense. The two respiratory viruses, along with the 19th COVID, present a triple threat during the weekend meetings.
“Mask boards work well,” Char said when asked about prevention tips. “If we go inside and there’s a big crowd, put on your mask. If you can stay in the aunt’s house on the porch, it’s safer for everyone.”
Hawaii’s average case count, meanwhile, remains steady, with 149 per day reported for the week by the state Department of Health, down from 142 reported Nov. 16.
The state’s average positivity rate also ticked up slightly, to 5.5% compared with 5.1 from the previous week.
Similar to national trends, Hawaii’s latest variant report shows a declining proportion of the omicron subvariant BA.5—from 71% previously to 60%—while the more immune-evasive variants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 continue to increase. The pair was up 23% in the state during the two-week period ending November 5.
Another immune-variant subvariant, XBB and its son, XBB.1, were also detected in Hawaii.
White House officials are pushing to get more of the updated bivalent COVID-19 boosters into the U.S. arsenal over the next six weeks.
Only 11.3% of American voters got a new course, according to the latest CDC data. Only about 30 percent of high-risk Americans age 65 and older got the new bivalent courses.
In Hawaii, more than 211,000 residents obtained bivalent courses, representing 14.8% of the eligible population.
All residents age 5 and older are eligible if it has been at least two months since the last first dose or priority of the COVID-19 course. Char said the newly infected could get a new course three months later and still be getting paid.
At a White House news briefing Tuesday, chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci said the coVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective.
The data show the effectiveness of vaccines is overwhelming, especially in preventing serious illness and deaths, Fauci said in his final White House briefing before retirement.
“And the most recent data that have been done indicate that if, in fact, vaccinated and boosted, compared to an unvaccinated person, the risk of dying in the most recent BA.4 /5 era was compared to the unvaccinated 14 times”. he said, “and at least three times the lower risk of a positive test compared with unvaccinated people”.
Fauci said the coronavirus continues to evolve, which is why boosters are needed to restore the immune response.
“So we know it’s safe,” he said. “We know it’s effective. So, my message and the final message—it may be the last message from this podium that I give you—is: Please, for your own safety, for your family’s sake, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you’re eligible, your family, to defend the community.