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State, county actions to curb Delta variant spike

Posted on Aug 25, 2021 in Capitol Connection, Featured, Main
Gov. Ige with Mayors Blangiardi, Kawakami, Roth and Victorino.

Gov. Ige with Mayors Kawakami, Blangiardi,  Victorino, and Roth.

Alarming case numbers from the fast-moving Delta variant, combined with slowing vaccination rates despite community campaigns, compelled Governor Ige and the county mayors to make the tough call: All state and county employees now need to provide proof of vaccination or be subject to regular COVID-19 testing. Free testing sites are available, but if not used, employees must cover any testing costs.

“Today the number of cases and hospitalizations are all trending up — dramatically,” said the governor. “The highly contagious Delta variant creates a big risk of infection, especially for members of our community who are not vaccinated. Based on the current conditions, I must take action to protect public health and avert unmanageable strains on our health care all across the state.” Hawai‘i island Mayor Mitch Roth added, “It was our sincere hope that we wouldn’t have to come to this to get people to do the right thing for the community. Enough is enough already.” Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami pointed out the options are clear. “It gives our workers choices to either opt-in to vaccinate, which I strongly suggest, or opt in for testing. What works is vaccination, early detection through testing and wearing masks.”

Also, an Aug. 10 executive order signed by Governor Ige sets statewide limits for social gatherings, restaurants, bars and social establishments. “The Delta variant has changed the course of the pandemic in Hawai‘i,” said the governor. “We are seeing the highest case numbers since this pandemic began. This requires immediate and serious attention to avert unmanageable strains on our healthcare system and other catastrophic impacts to the state.” The executive order will remain in place until Oct. 18, unless superseded by a subsequent order. The measures include:

• Social gatherings will be limited to no more than 10 people indoors and no more than 25 people outdoors.
• Indoor capacity for restaurants, bars gyms and other social establishments is set at 50%. Patrons must remain seated with 6-foot distancing between groups. There will be no mingling, and masks must be worn at all times except when actively eating or drinking.
• Some county mayors are also in discussion with the governor about further restrictions. Honolulu Mayor Blangiardi has suspended large gatherings for four weeks, including weddings, funerals and events at the Waikīkī Shell and Blaisdell Center.

Read more in the September Capitol Connection newsletter.

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