Associated Press

HONOLULU — Health care officials in Hawaii are concerned about a shortage of oxygen as the state’s coronavirus surge continues to grow.

Hospital officials are canceling nonemergency procedures that require oxygen in an attempt to conserve supplies, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

There is a global shortage of oxygen containers that are needed for transport to the islands, said Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, a trade group for the state’s hospitals and nursing homes.

“The combined demand has increased to the point where we are concerned about whether we can generate enough oxygen in Hawaii to meet all the needs of our health care facilities,” said Raethel.

(Related: Tourism in Hawai’i: ‘People are fed up’)

Hawaii’s two oxygen plants have switched to producing medical gas only. Raethel said mainland tank orders are backlogged for months.

Hawaii Pacific Health, which oversees several hospitals in the state, directed staff to cancel elective procedures where oxygen is needed.

“We do not plan to defer any emergency surgery, and we will need to have careful consideration of cases that are urgent but not emergent,” Hawaii Pacific Health President and CEO Ray Vara said in a staff memo. “Any cases that can be deferred safely should be deferred until the oxygen supply solutions are clearer.”

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