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Surviving the Surge

Hawai‘i Department of Health officials reported 6,252 new confirmed and probable coronavirus infections today, a new single-day record for Hawai‘i. The current surge in positive cases is affecting many families and businesses. On Monday, more than 800 staff members of the Queen’s Health Systems were out due either to infection or exposure to COVID-19, or the need to care for loved ones impacted by the coronavirus. More than 100 medical workers have arrived in Hawai‘i to help care for patients at both O‘ahu facilities. To help protect our healthcare system and ensure that everyone will be able to get the care that they need, please continue to follow COVID-19 safety precautions. Thank you for sticking with us on this journey as we learn more about COVID-19 infections and how to best protect ourselves and our loved ones. Beginning next week, all COVID-19 updates will be sent on Tuesdays at 10 a.m.

FEDERAL UPDATES

Get Free At-⁠home COVID-⁠19 Tests

Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests at www.covidtests.gov. The tests will be completely free; there are no shipping costs and you don’t need to enter a credit card number.

 

Health Insurers to Cover the Cost of At-Home COVID-19 Tests 

As of January 15, the Biden Administration announced insurance companies and health plans are required to cover eight free at-home tests per covered individual per month. The Administration is working to make COVID-19 home tests more accessible by increasing supply and bringing down costs.

STATEWIDE UPDATES

Department of Health Temporarily Pauses Processing Negative COVID-19 Cases

There have been roughly 48,000 COVID-19 cases reported in the past two weeks. In order to keep up with reporting and accurately processing the thousands of positive tests recorded at laboratories daily, the Hawai‘i Department of Health will temporarily stop reporting negative COVID-19 tests as of Sunday, January 16. More information can be found here.

 

Booster Shot Eligibility in Hawai‘i

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot? The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) recommends:

  • A single Pfizer-BioNTech (Pfizer) vaccine booster shot for everyone ages 12-17 who completed their primary vaccine series at least five months ago.
  • People 18 and older who completed their primary series of Pfizer vaccine at least five months ago should get an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) booster.
  • Moderately to severely immunocompromised children ages 5-11 should get an additional dose of the Pfizer vaccine 28 days after their second shot.

Learn more and schedule an appointment to receive a booster shot at hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine.

Hawaii’s Current Isolation & Quarantine Policy

The Hawai‘i Department of Health has recently revised COVID-19 isolation and quarantine policies. If COVID-19 positive regardless of vaccination status, isolate for at least 5 days and until symptoms are gone. If exposed to COVID-19 and are boosted, or fully vaccinated within the past six months (or within the past 2 months if J&J), no need to quarantine. If exposed to COVID-19 and not fully vaccinated, quarantine for five days. In both scenarios, wear a mask for ten days and get tested on day five.

Department of Health Issues Interim K-12 School Guidance

The guidance for K-12 schools has been updated to reflect reducing the isolation and quarantine period to 5 days. Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 or have COVID-19 symptoms should isolate for five days regardless of their vaccination status. They can return to school when all the following conditions are met: five full days since testing positive, no fever for 24 hours, and symptoms have improved. Students and staff who have been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19 should quarantine for five days unless they are ages 5-17 and have completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines (two shots Pfizer or Moderna) or are 18 and older and have received their booster shot. Anyone exposed to COVID-19 should get tested on day five. Wearing a mask correctly and consistently is important for minimizing risk of transmission; masks should be worn around others at all times in school settings. If people are unable to wear a mask and test positive or are exposed to a person with COVID-19, they should remain in isolation or quarantine for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status. Learn more about the guidance by clicking here.

COUNTY  UPDATES

Maui County

The Small Business Grant is accepting applications from business owners of restaurants, bars and gyms in Maui County. It is different from the “Kōkua Maui County Recovery & Relief Fund” that was administered in 2020 by the Credit Unions of Maui. This program is not an expense reimbursement program, rather upon qualification, the business will receive a grant for $5,000. See if your business qualifies and apply by clicking here. If you have any questions, you may call the Kōkua Maui County Grant hotline at (808) 270-5745, Monday through Friday between 7:45 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

On February 11, 2022, Maui County will launch a new program called Maui Nui First to support small businesses on Maui, Moloka‘i and Lana‘i. The purpose of Maui Nui First is to strengthen our islands’ economy by encouraging residents and visitors to think, support, and buy from local businesses FIRST. The Maui Nui First program will replace Maui County’s www.KamaainaFirst.com website. There is no cost to participate in the Kama‘āina First program; even if you have participated in the Kamaʻāina First and/or Shop Small Maui Directories, please register again at www.mauinuifirst.com. Have a question? Contact the County of Maui Office of Economic Development at email info@mauinuifirst.com or call (808) 270-7415.

Moloka‘i residents! Free Rapid Antigen testing is available on Mondays at Moloka‘i Community Health Center. Appointments are required. Please call (808) 553-5038 option one to schedule.

 

Kaua‘i County

There will be a job fair on February 2nd from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Hanapēpē United Church of Christ (4481 Kona Rd. Hanapēpē). Over 20 businesses will be represented qand job seekers will be given an opportunity to make a great first impression, learn about potential employers about qualifications, and meet staff who can answer their employment questions. All participants are required to either provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test (from a testing facility) taken no more than 24 hours from the start of the event along with a valid state ID or Driver’s License. For more information on the job fair, visit www.kedb.com/jobfair. Employers interested in participating in the event can contact KEDB using this employer registration form. For more information, call (808) 245-6692.

Kaua‘i Economic Opportunity (KEO) offers a free Eviction Diversion Mediation program for Kaua‘i residents. The program can assist to negotiate payment plans for back rent, plans for rent going forward, applying for rental assistance, and other agreements. To learn more, call (808) 245-6000 or email mediation@keoinc.org.

 

Hawai‘i County 

Upcoming pop-up vaccination clinics:

Offering Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines; no appointments needed.

 

City & County of Honolulu 

The City and County of Honolulu is hosting an in-person career fair on Wednesday, January 26, from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. offering a wide range of employment opportunities for people of all skill sets. More than 70 private sector employers with available job openings will also be in attendance and accepting resumes. Online job seekers can register and visit virtual booths, research job openings and easily connect to company web pages for additional content any time between now and the fair. It is recommended that attendees register in advance so employers can review resumes and schedule interviews prior to the fair. Learn more at www.honolulu.gov/career.

STATEWIDE RESOURCES 

Wellness Tracker for Businesses 

The Wellness Tracker from the ALTRES Foundation is a free app for businesses to reduce and prevent potential COVID-19 exposures in the workplace. The Wellness Tracker is technology built right here in Hawaiʻi that is free for businesses to have QR code wellness checks, customizable self-screenings for employees and customers, confirm vaccination status or test results to stay compliant with county guidelines.

 

COVID-19 and Social Media: Best Practices to Reach Your Communities

On January 20 at 11:00 a.m. the CDC Foundation is hosting a free webinar on how to utilize social media to spread credible public health interventions, educating families and community members with equity-centered communication efforts. Experts will answer your most pressing questions on effective social media communication strategies and share the best practices for leveraging social media in your community – especially with limited resources and small budgets. Register by clicking here.

 

COVID-19 Community Exchange Event 

The National COVID-19 Resiliency Network (NCRN) is hosting a Community Exchange Event on Thursday, January 27 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Share successful strategies and resources for engaging communities with the most effective messages and messengers for COVID-19 response. Help NCRN identify opportunities to support and share resources for COVID-19 priorities. For more information about this event, please email ncrn@msm.eduor call (877) 904-5097. Register today!

 

NIHCM’s Infographic: Omicron Overwhelms Hospitals 

The National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation has released a new infographic, Omicron Overwhelms Hospitals. COVID-19 cases have risen to new records in recent weeks, spurred by Omicron, which now makes up 95% of new cases in the U.S. which has had an impact on our healthcare system.

 

Guide on Improving Access to Websites and Digital Services for LEP Persons

The COVID-19 response has to include access to resources for  limited English proficiency (LEP) persons. COVID-19  Before creating web content, social media messages, and other digital products for people with LEP, check out recent recommendations made by the LEP Committee of the Federal Title VI Interagency Working Group.

PUBLIC HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK

One in four Americans associate shame with COVID-19. The effects of shame brought on by the stigma of testing positive may stop people from seeking medical care or notifying others that they may have been exposed. Shame and blame also contribute to mental health issues, which are already high during the pandemic. If someone you know tells you that they have tested  positive for COVID-19, try to have grace and empathy. If a close contact tells you that you may have inadvertently been exposed, thank them and let them know you appreciate their honesty and concern. Let’s break the stigma of COVID-19 together by having compassion for ourselves and others.

 

DO YOU HAVE RESOURCES OR INFORMATION ON COVID-19 TO SHARE?

If you have any resources or updates we should include in our next email or on our website, feel free to contact us at covidresponse@hiphi.org.

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