Hawaii Struggles With an Oxygen Shortage

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U.S.|Hawaii is facing an oxygen shortage amid a grounds surge successful Covid cases.


Outside the exigency  country   astatine  The Queen’s Medical Center successful  Honolulu past  week.
Credit...Caleb Jones/Associated Press
  • Sept. 2, 2021, 5:18 a.m. ET

The authorities successful Hawaii are struggling to transport tanks of oxygen from the mainland arsenic the state’s hospitals turn progressively strained by caller coronavirus infections.

Medical authorities are asking radical to postpone elective surgeries and the state’s 223 I.C.U. beds person dwindled to 16 available, said Hilton R. Raethel, the president and main enforcement of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.

“The astir captious constituent for Hawaii that we’ve experienced during this full pandemic is close now,” helium said.

Since July 1, Hawaii has been battling its highest surge successful Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations, with the seven-day mean of reported cases reaching 884 connected Tuesday, according to a New York Times database. The seven-day hospitalization mean peaked astatine 427 connected Monday. Health experts accidental the surge is driven by the highly contagious Delta variant and debased vaccination rates.

Though Hawaii has seen droves of tourists coming to the islands — truthful galore that the state’s politician past week asked them to enactment away — Mr. Raethel said that astir 95 percent of hospitalized patients are unvaccinated residents, not tourists.

These hospitalized patients are besides mostly the crushed for a immense surge successful requests for aesculapian oxygen. The request is up 250 percent since August began, the relation said successful a statement. The authorities authorities turned to the mainland for help, but encountered challenges.

An planetary shortage has constricted the fig of liquid oxygen tanks that the authorities tin order, Mr. Raethel said. It besides takes up to a period to vessel the tanks successful boats crossed the Pacific. (Liquid oxygen is highly flammable and unsafe to transport by plane.)

“If New York runs retired of oxygen, you vessel it successful from New Jersey oregon enactment it connected a truck,” helium said. “Even Alaska tin thrust it crossed the borderline from Canada oregon Washington.”

The authorities presently has 10 tanks, Mr. Raethel said, and each carries up to 3,500 gallons of liquid oxygen.

The authorities authorities person requested assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and different agencies arsenic it tries to summation its oxygen supply, the relation said.

Mr. Raethel said helium believes the authorities volition upwind the situation without moving retired of oxygen. In summation to canceling elective surgeries, FEMA has approved the acquisition of 3 oxygen generators, the authorities person asked shipping companies to velocity up deliveries and the authorities has identified a fewer tanks that tin transportation liquid oxygen alternatively of different gases.

“Living successful Hawaii is fantastic erstwhile things are going well,” helium said. “But it’s truly challenging erstwhile you person logistical concerns.”

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