As COVID deaths rise, new research sheds light on the link between fatality rates and race in Hawaii


HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – While COVID cases are declining in Hawaii, the death rate is climbing.

And new research is shedding light on who is at highest risk.

Throughout the pandemic, experts have talked about age and preexisting conditions being major factors in a patient’s outcome. But epidemiologist DeWolfe Miller has found race also plays a big role.

He said data compiled from March 2020 found that if you’re hospitalized with COVID in Hawaii, your overall risk of succumbing to the virus is 27%.

But when you break it down by race, Miller said, “The highest is 53%. It’s in the Japanese and Asians. The lowest is in the whites and Native Hawaiians.”

Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients in Hawaii
Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients in Hawaii(Hawaii News Now)

To date, white people hospitalized with COVID in Hawaii have fared the best ― with an 18% chance of dying. For Native Hawaiians, that risk stands at 21%.

Outcomes are worse for Pacific Islanders, Filipinos and people of Japanese descent.

The analysis comes as Hawaii sees COVID deaths rising even as cases fall. Fatalities are considered a lagging indicator of a surge ― first cases go up, then hospitalizations and lastly, deaths.

“These surges follow a predictable pattern,” said Hilton Raethel, the head of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii. “Unfortunately over the last seven days we’ve had an average of between six and seven deaths a day. It’s an inevitable consequence after having had so many infections.”

On Saturday, Hawaii saw 18 new COVID deaths ― a daily record.

And since Feb. 1, the state has reported 45 new COVID deaths.

Raethel added that vaccinations and especially booster shots drastically increase a patient’s chance of survival. All total, about 512,000 booster shots have been administered statewide.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.



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