We are coming down to the last few weeks of 2020. As the holidays are approaching, we wanted to wish you and your family a safe and merry holiday season. This past Wednesday, we had the honor of hearing about the Hawai‘i State Budget and what to expect going into 2021 from Beth Giesting, Director of the Hawai‘i Budget and Policy Center and Jill Tokuda, Special Advisor for the Hawai‘i Data Collaborative,. If you missed this past week’s webinar, you can watch it here! We look forward to continuing our COVID-19 Webinars in February 2021.

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COVID-19 VACCINE UPDATE

Last Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an emergency use authorization of the Pfizer vaccine, allowing shipments to states to begin and marking a critical milestone in the battle against COVID-19. Hawai‘i is expected to receive 46,000 doses of the FDA-approved Pfizer vaccine and 36,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine if it is also approved by the FDA. Both of these vaccines require two doses, given several weeks apart.

The vaccine is not a dose of the live virus. It uses mRNA, which tells our cells how to make a specific protein called “spike protein.” The spike protein is found in the virus that causes COVID-19. Once the protein is made, our body recognizes it as a threat and starts to build antibodies to fight it. This is the same immune response our body would have if infected with COVID-19.

In preparation for this, the state has created a vaccination plan. Knowing that it would take time for vaccine supply to meet demand, the action plan prioritizes vulnerable populations to receive the vaccine first. Among the first to receive the vaccine include health care personnel and long-term care facility residents. Health care personnel include physicians, and individuals working in hospitals, nursing homes, and care facilities who provide direct patient care. The Hawai‘i COVID-19 website has more information on the current status of the state’s supply of vaccines, vaccination plan, and frequently asked questions. The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech arrived in Honolulu today; hospital administrators reported that vaccinations for at-risk healthcare workers were scheduled to begin tomorrow.

COUNTY UPDATES
Kaua‘i County
Kaua‘i County has partnered with the Department of Health to provide free COVID-19 testing until the end of 2020. Testing takes place every Sunday. There is a calendar that contains the testing locations, and testing takes place from 9AM – 3PM. Testing is open to everyone regardless of insurance coverage or symptoms. You can click here to register or find out if taking a COVID-19 test is right for you.

City and County of Honolulu
The O‘ahu Small Business Resource Network (SBRN) is an online resource that connects Hawai‘i small businesses to experts and service providers to help with services such as applying for relief funds, financial management and transitioning to digital business. Small businesses can also receive coaching on how to adhere to COVID-19 health and safety requirements. You can request a referral to get connected with experts who can assist with the economic resources available.

Maui County
Due to multiple COVID-19 cases associated with bars, Maui County is closing bars and bar service areas within restaurants until December 26. In addition, restaurant patrons must wear face masks at all times unless they are eating or drinking. Maui County has officially partnered with the AlohaSafe Alert app, a free, voluntary new service that can notify you if you’ve been in close contact with someone that tests positive for COVID-19. It works by utilizing Bluetooth to anonymously communicate with other phones. If others near you test positive for COVID-19, you will be notified about possible exposure. It is free to download to your cell phone from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Maui residents have access to free COVID-19 testing on Wednesday, Dec. 16. Testing will be held from 8 AM to 1 PM at Pauwela Cannery in Haiku. On Dec. 23, Minit Medical Urgent Care sites will be open from 8 AM to 4 PM for testing and you must pre-register to be eligible. If you have any problems or questions pre-registering, call 808-667-6161 ext: 7.

Hawai‘i County

Nā Leo TV based in Hilo, is continuing their COVID-19 Talk Story. You can find past episodes with local officials and business owners talking about relevant news and updates. You can submit COVID-19 related questions online to potentially be answered in their next segment. Highlighted on Episode 11 of COVID-19 Talk Story was Our Kuleana, a community-based effort to help Hawai‘i island residents with resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

STATE UPDATES

  • Furlough Days Ahead. Governor David Ige announced plans to furlough state employees at least two days a month starting January 1, 2021. The goal is to balance the state budget. The furloughs are expected to save the state about $300 million. The state legislature will be convening in January 2021 and hopes to look for other revenue sources to avoid furloughs and drastic budget cuts.
  • Extended Federal Funding for the Hawai‘i National Guard. Governor Ige requested an extension on federal funding to allow the Hawai‘i National Guard to continue with COVID-19 relief. Some areas that the Hawai‘i National Guard are providing relief in include: contact tracing, creating mobile swab teams, health education for at-risk populations, and distributing food and medical supplies.

SAFE TRAVELS QUICK FACTS – UPDATED 12/2

MANAGING MENTAL HEALTH DURING COVID-19 WEBINAR, 12/17

PUBLIC HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK

COVID-19 bi-weekly health tip

Last week, the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved for use in the U.S. While this news is a hopeful step forward in our fight against COVID-19, it will be months before enough vaccines are available for our community to achieve herd immunity. Herd immunity, also referred to as community immunity, is when a sufficient amount of a population is immune to an infectious disease limiting the spread.

In the meantime, the swiss cheese analogy shows us that there is not one solution to ending the pandemic. This is why wearing a mask alone won’t stop COVID-19. We still need to practice social distancing, staying home if you are sick, washing your hands, avoiding crowds and touching your face. More testing alone will not stop the spread of COVID-19. We also need contact tracing, resources so people are able to quarantine or isolate as needed, and effective government messaging so the public is aware of safe practices and laws.

HAWAI‘I RESTAURANT CARD EXPIRES ON DECEMBER 15
The Hawai‘i Restaurant Card Program was a $75 million economic stimulus initiative to give $500 gift cards to qualified unemployed workers supported by the Federal CARES Act. Recipients of the restaurant card need to use the funds by tomorrow, December 15, 11:59 PM. On December 16, any remaining funds on the card will be returned to the State of Hawai‘i. If you have questions about your Hawai‘i restaurant card, call Customer Service toll-free at 1 (800) 352-5202.

BUY HAWAI‘I, GIVE ALOHA

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to shop and support local companies to sustain our local economy and help small businesses. The Hawai‘i Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, created a free online resource that promotes Hawai‘i businesses and Hawai‘i-made products. Buy Hawai‘i, Give Aloha provides you with local retailers, restaurants, farmers and manufacturers all in one place. If you haven’t done your holiday shopping and want to support local businesses, look no further.

OʻAHU RESIDENTS: SAFE HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES

This year’s holiday season will be a bit different with COVID-19, but there are several activities for the family to celebrate safely.

The Honolulu City Lights are up and can be seen from the safety of your car. In addition, they are having a television special to commemorate and celebrate this local holiday tradition. Join us by celebrating in creative ways to protect the health and safety of our loved ones.

Show Aloha Land – A Holiday Wonderland allows participants to drive through a dazzling display of one million LED lights choreographed to holiday music at the Aloha Stadium. Purchase tickets here – all proceeds will benefit the S.A.C. Foundation (Show Aloha Challenge).

FREE TELECARE FOR NEIGHBOR ISLAND RESIDENTS THROUGH DECEMBER 31

The Hawai’i State Rural Health Association is supporting FREE telecare for the rest of 2020 to all neighbor island residents (Hawai’i, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaua’i, Ni’ihau)! Click here for mental health appointments and here for all other health appointments.

WORLD SURF LEAGUE

The World Surf League (WSL) has decided to suspend the Billabong Pipe Masters on North Shore, O‘ahu due to COVID-19 concerns. Some WSL staff, including CEO Erik Logan, tested positive for COVID-19. There is no set date for when the contest will continue.

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.

NOTE: We will be taking a short intermission, and will resume with our COVID-19 Update 26 on January 11, 2021! Stay connected and follow us on Instagram and Facebook, to keep informed with the latest updates on COVID-19 and HIPHI news.