Happy New Year! Our staff at Hawai‘i Public Health Institute wishes you and your ‘ohana bright beginnings starting off the new year. We look forward to serving you in 2021 as we work towards achieving our mission to advance the health and wellness of the people and islands of Hawai‘i. Please safe the date for our first COVID-19 Webinar of 2021 on February 3rd at 1 p.m., where we will discuss the latest updates on the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Nearly a month after the state received its first shipment of vaccines, Hawai‘i has administered 35,000+ vaccinations statewide (data updated every Wednesday at 12 p.m.). With this progress, Hawai‘i is now in phase 1B of its vaccination plan. This phase expands vaccination eligibility to frontline essential workers, such as teachers, postal employees, and first responders, and adults 75 years and older. Frontline essential worker vaccinations will be coordinated through their organizations. This week more information will be posted on the State of Hawai‘i COVID-19 portal on how adults 75 years and older can get vaccinated.

Vaccinations for the 1A priority group, healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents, are still ongoing. The state is asking independent licensed healthcare professionals to complete a survey to receive their vaccine. Independent healthcare professionals only need to complete the survey once.

Definition of phase 1bDefinition of phase 1b

To learn more about the plan and estimated timelines, visit the Hawai‘i COVID-19 website.

Kaua‘i County

As of January 5th, Mayor Derek Kawakami amended the travel restrictions to allow travelers to bypass a mandatory quarantine. Specifics vary depending on if the travel is inter-island or out-of-state, so the county created a graphicto help travelers determine what requirements apply to them.

In summary, all travelers wanting to avoid or shorten their mandatory quarantine must take a test at least 72 hours prior to departure. For interisland travelers (must be within the state for at least 72 hours), a negative is sufficient. In addition to the pre-test, out-of-state travelers must also undergo a three-day “Enhanced Movement Quarantine” at a “resort bubble” property, where they will be allowed to enjoy resort amenities. They will need to take a post-travel test at least 72 hours after arrival, and must stay within the resort bubble until they receive their results. All the updated travel guidelines for inter-island and out-of-state travelers can be found on the county’s website.

City and County of Honolulu
The City and County of Honolulu is currently in tier 2 of the reopening strategy. The weekly average for new cases in Honolulu County is 137, exceeding the 100-case threshold for tier 1. Despite the rise in cases, Mayor Rick Blangiardi stated that O‘ahu will remain in tier 2. As of Thursday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green is asking Hawai‘i residents to avoid all social gatherings for two weeks.

In December, the City and County of Honolulu provided $500 cards to residents financially affected by COVID-19 for food and groceries. Recipients of the Honolulu City Immediate Response Incentive Mastercard (City Card) have an extended deadline to use the funds. The deadline to use your balance is January 31, 2021. To activate your card or find your balance click here.

Maui County
Maui County revised their restrictions due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, reducing the size of gatherings from ten down to five individuals, requiring bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m., and limiting the occupancy of food establishments to no more than 30%.

Hawai‘i County
Queen’s North Hawai‘i Community Hospital is now offering COVID-19 vaccines to all community healthcare providers. To receive the vaccine, providers and organizations must fill out a COVID-19 Vaccination Request Form and email it to QNHCHVaccine@queens.org. The two other vaccination hub sites in Hawai‘˜i County include Hilo Medical Centerand Kona Community Hospital.

Statewide Furloughs Delayed Until July 1
Thanks to the new federal COVID-19 relief package, Governor David Ige announced that state worker furloughs will be delayed until July 1, 2021.

Free Grab-and-go Meals For Kids Extended Through June
The Hawai‘i State Department of Education Grab-and-Go school meals program has been extended through Jun. 30, 2021. Free meals for children ages 18 and under will continue to be provided at 203 public schools across the state. Click here for a list of participating schools and more information.

In December, Congress passed a new COVID-19 relief package, which will provide at least $1.7 billion in new federal funding to help Hawai’i families and local businesses. Some highlights include: adding a $300/week plus-up for unemployment, extending the eviction moratorium to January 31, 2021, $600 direct payments, additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, and support for vaccine distribution, testing, and contact tracing. More information is available on Senator Brian Schatz’s website.


COVID-19 Vaccine Update


COVID-19 Public Health Tip

As we all do our part in protecting ourselves and our community, we must be vigilant in wearing our masks. When choosing the best face mask, try considering the three F’s: fit, fiber and flow. The CDC provides guidance on the types of masks that work best to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To help encourage others to wear a mask, the Department of Health is asking you to share your creative mask photos using the hashtag #808Protects on social media and they might even feature you on their webpage!

The Rent Assistance and Mediation Program (RAMP) is to help local residents who have experienced a loss of income from the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid eviction by providing rental payments for unpaid rent and mediation services. The $6 million program, administered by Catholic Charities Hawai‘i, provides up to $1,500 in rental assistance per month for up to two months or $500 in mediation assistance. You can apply online between January 11, 2021 to January 13, 2021 between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. You may also apply via mail, email or fax, by downloading an application off their website. For more information about eligibility and how to apply, visit Catholic Charities’ website.

AlohaSafe is the official app approved by the State of Hawai‘i to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. After downloading the app, you will be notified if you’ve been in close contact with someone that tested positive for COVID-19. It utilizes Bluetooth technology to anonymously communicate with other phones. Should you test positive for COVID-19, your identity is kept private from anyone who receives an alert and users’ identities who have the app are also kept private. It is free to download to your cell phone from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Until February 5th, the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Hawai‘i COVID-19 Response, Recovery & Resilience Team is hosting weekly webinars on Fridays at 12 p.m. to address the COVID-19 response in Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Register for the upcoming sessions here.

The Pacific Urban Resilience Lab and the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at the University of Hawai‘i are conducting a community risk survey on attitudes towards protective actions for the COVID-19 pandemic. The information from this survey will help to inform community mitigation strategies for the disease. If you have questions regarding this study, please contact the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center and Pacific Urban Resilience Lab at the University of Hawai‘i at (808) 956-0600.

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.