Average COVID positivity rate as Hawaii continues to decline

February 2 (Reuters) – The average positivity rate and hospitalizations for Hawaii continued to decline on February 1, according to statistics from the state Department of Health.

The average positivity rate and hospitalizations for Hawaii continued to decline on Feb. 1, according to statistics from the state Department of Health.

These encouraging signs follow a White House announcement that national emergencies to deal with the pandemic will be extended until March 11.

While COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral treatments like Paxlovid will remain free on May 12, Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, tweeted that there would eventually be a transition from government-distributed vaccines and treatments to those purchased through the regular healthcare system.

“Access to free vaccines and treatments will not go away,” Jha wrote. “And over time as we transition this to the regular healthcare system, [we ] will ensure COVID vaccines and treatments remain accessible and affordable for Americans.

On Tuesday, Jha said the emergencies were ending “because we’re in a better place” and “we’re going to get through this winter without a big spike or rush to hospitals” and “because we have the tools to deal with this virus.” “

On Wednesday, the Hawaii Department of Health said the state’s seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases fell to 109 from 134 on Jan. 25.

The state’s median positivity rate also slipped to 4.7% — the first drop below 5.0% since mid-April — down from 6.0% the previous week. The average positivity rate, or percentage of positive tests, has been declining for consecutive weeks since early 2023.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients fell to a weekly average of 57 per day, down from 82 per day the previous week.

However, DOH also reported 11 more deaths, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 1,797.

Of the 11 fatalities, one fatality was a male child under the age of 18 who was diagnosed on Kauai and another was a man in his 50s who was diagnosed on the island of Hawaii, according to the DOH. Both were hospitalized. The rest were 70 years and older.

Nationwide, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are also declining, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Omicron subvariant XBB.1.5, also known as “the Kraken”, has now become dominant in the US. CDC Nowcast’s latest model estimates that XBB.1.5 accounts for 61.3% of cases in the US, compared to 21.8% for BQ.1.1 and 9.3% for BQ.1.

According to DOHs released Tuesday, XBB.1.5 accounts for approximately 9% of variants sequenced in Hawaii, based on samples for the two-week period ended Jan. 14.

Interest in COVID-19 vaccinations has since waned.

Just 16,876 doses were administered in January, a new monthly low since its offering, and about half of the 32,250 doses administered in December. That’s a huge drop from 105,271 in October and 53,319 in November.

A total of 279,897 residents, or 25.1% of the eligible Hawaiian population, received the bivalent booster shot.