Hawaii struggles with oxygen shortage

Authorities in Hawaii are struggling to transport oxygen tanks from the mainland as hospitals across the state are increasingly strained...


Authorities in Hawaii are struggling to transport oxygen tanks from the mainland as hospitals across the state are increasingly strained by new coronavirus infections.

Medical authorities are asking people to postpone elective surgeries and the state’s 223 intensive care beds have fallen to 16 available, said Hilton R. Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

“The most critical point for Hawaii that we have experienced during this entire pandemic is right now,” he said.

Since July 1, Hawaii has grappled with its largest increase in Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations, with the seven-day average of reported cases reaching 884 on Tuesday, according to a New York Times database. The seven-day hospital stay average peaked at 427 on Monday. Health experts say the outbreak is due to the highly contagious Delta variant and low vaccination rates.

Although Hawaii has seen crowds of tourists coming to the islands – so much so that the the state governor asked them last week to stay away – Mr Raethel said about 95 percent of hospital patients are unvaccinated residents, not tourists.

These hospitalized patients are also largely responsible for the sharp increase in demands for medical oxygen. Demand has increased 250% since the start of August, the association said in a statement. State authorities turned to the mainland for help, but encountered difficulties.

An international shortage has limited the number of liquid oxygen tanks the state can order, Raethel said. It also takes up to a month to ship the tanks in boats across the Pacific. (Liquid oxygen is highly flammable and dangerous to transport by air.)

“If New York runs out of oxygen, you ship it from New Jersey or put it on a truck,” he said. “Even Alaska can get it across the border from Canada or Washington.”

The state currently has 10 tanks, Raethel said, and each carries up to 3,500 gallons of liquid oxygen.

State officials have requested help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the US Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies in an attempt to increase its oxygen supply, the association.

Mr Raethel said he believes the state will overcome the crisis without running out of oxygen. In addition to canceling elective surgeries, FEMA has approved the purchase of three oxygen generators, authorities have asked shipping companies to speed up deliveries, and the state has identified a few tanks that can carry liquid oxygen. instead of other gases.

“Living in Hawaii is wonderful when things are going well,” he said. “But it’s really difficult when you have logistics issues. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Hawaii struggles with oxygen shortage
Hawaii struggles with oxygen shortage
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