COVID-19 UPDATE 41    

How is the Delta variant different from other strains of COVID-19? The Delta variant is twice as contagious as the original coronavirus and data shows it might cause more severe illness than previous strains in unvaccinated persons, even among young and healthy individuals. Delta is currently the predominant strain of the virus in the United States and in Hawai‘i, we are currently seeing the highest number of new daily cases. About 95 percent of current COVID-19 patients in Hawai‘i hospitals are unvaccinated; getting a COVID-19 vaccination is the best protection against the Delta variant. Register for our next Public Health Action Webinar on August 18 at 1 p.m. to learn about the current picture of transmission and vulnerability in Hawaiʻi and what actions we can take. Panelists include:

  • Janet Berreman, MD, MPH, FAAP, Kauaʻi District Health Officer
  • Melinda Ashton, MD, E.V.P. Chief Quality Officer at Hawai‘i Pacific Health
  • Paige Heckathorn Choy, MPAP, Senior Director, Government Affairs at Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i

UPCOMING COVID-19 WEBINAR

 

FEDERAL UPDATES

New CDC Guidance For Fully Vaccinated Individuals  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals. Notable changes include:

  • Wearing a mask in public indoor settings where there is high community transmission (Hawai‘i continues to have a mandatory indoor mask mandate).
  • Getting tested if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and in the meantime isolating from others.
  • Getting tested 3-5 days after exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

The change in recommendations is based on new data that suggests fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the Delta variant can spread the virus to others. However, infections happen in only a small proportion of people who are fully vaccinated, even with the Delta variant, and vaccination is still the best way to protect from serious illness, hospitalization and death.

Update: Federal Mandate on COVID-19 Vaccinations 

On July 29, President Biden announced that federal employees and contractors will be asked to attest to their vaccination status, though the timeline for implementation has not yet been announced. Federal workers unable to get vaccinated will need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and undergo periodic COVID-19 testing. Learn more by clicking here. Today, the Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released the Department of Defense’s plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for U.S. service members by mid-September, or sooner if the vaccine receives full FDA approval earlier.

STATEWIDE UPDATES

CDC Eviction Prevention Applies To Hawai‘i Residents 

While Hawaii’s eviction moratorium expired on August 6, 2021, the CDC extended its eviction moratoriumeffective through October 3, 2021 to counties with “high” transmission rates. Currently, this CDC order applies to renters in the counties of Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kauaʻi and the City and County of Honolulu, excluding Kalawao County (due to low community transmission). If any one of those counties maintains “moderate” or “low” community transmission of COVID-19 for 14 consecutive days, then that county will no longer be subject to the CDC order. Renters should fill out the CDC declaration form to see if they qualify and provide the completed CDC declaration form to their landlord as soon as possible to be protected from eviction.

For renters that do not qualify for the extended CDC eviction moratorium, Act 57 changes the landlord-tenant code and incentivizes mediation for both renters and landlords by:

  • Extending the notice of termination of a rental agreement from five days to 15 days to allow more time to seek mediation and work out agreements to avoid eviction.
  • Requiring landlords to engage in mediation and delay filing an action for summary possession if a tenant schedules or attempts to schedule a mediation.
  • Requiring landlords to provide a copy of a notice of termination of a rental agreement both the tenant and a mediation center that provides free landlord-tenant mediation. The mediation center will in turn set up a mediation appointment for both parties with mediation to be completed within 30 days from the receipt of the notice.
  • For the first month following the end of the moratorium, landlords can only bring eviction proceedings to the court if the tenant in question is behind on rent by four months or more. Eligibility will then expand every two months.

Much of this information was also covered in our last PHA webinar, What to Expect as the Eviction Moratorium Ends, with Dan O’Meara from the Legal Aid Society of Hawai‘i.

New Vaccination Policy for State and County Employees

Beginning next Monday, August 16, 2021, all state and county employees must provide proof of their vaccination status to their department, office or agency. Unvaccinated employees will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing and may have restrictions on official travel. Governor Ige stated, “The highly contagious Delta variant creates a big risk of infection, especially for members of our community who are not vaccinated. With spiking COVID-19 case numbers, we have to take measures now to prevent an unmanageable strain on our healthcare system. This new vaccination and testing policy for State and county workers will help protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Hawaiʻi.”

State Increases Free COVID-19 Testing Opportunities 

Free statewide COVID-19 testing is available through a number of federal, state, and county partnerships. TheHawai‘i COVID-19 Test Site Finder helps you easily make an appointment or find locations with walk-ins to get tested. You may also visit the Hawai‘i COVID-19 portal to find free community testing sites.

COVID-19 Vaccinations Required for HIDOE Sport Teams 

The Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) announced all student-athletes, athletic staff and volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated by September 24, 2021 to participate in school-sanctioned athletic activities. A person will be considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving a second dose of Moderna or Pfizer or two weeks after a single-dose of Johnson and Johnson. Students and staff must get an initial vaccine dose by August 20 to be fully vaccinated by September 24. Those in need of an exemption from the requirement for medical or religious reasons will need the appropriate documentation; medical exemptions must be verified by a licensed physician. Those exempted will be required to submit to twice-weekly COVID-19 tests.

COUNTY UPDATES

Maui County 

Free drive-through testing dates and locations through the end of August include:

  • Lahaina Civic Center, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays.
  • Pukalani, Mayor Hannibal Tavares Community Center, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on August 11
  • Kihei, 1280 S. Kihei Road (behind Ace Hardware), 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursdays
  • Kahului, 348 Lehuakona St. (behind Maui Marketplace), 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays

 

Hawai‘i County

Hawai‘i county is hosting several pop-up vaccination and testing sites across the island:

 

Kaua‘i County

Free COVID-19 testing is available at multiple locations from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through a mobile testing van. Results are provided the same day. No appointment needed. Locations include:

  • Wednesdays: Kekaha Neighborhood Center parking lot
  • Thursdays: Kīlauea Neighborhood Center parking lot
  • Fridays: Kalāheo Neighborhood Center parking lot
  • Saturdays: Hanalei Neighborhood Center parking lot
  • Sundays: Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center parking lot.

Visit kauai.gov/COVIDTest to see all the available COVID-19 testing sites on Kaua‘i.

The County of Kaua‘i and Kaua‘i District Health Office launched a new mobile vaccination van providing Johnson and Johnson and Moderna vaccines. You can request the van to attend community gatherings and functions to promote vaccinations for adults ages 18 and over. Businesses, organizations, and individuals can request the mobile vaccine by clicking here or by calling the Kaua‘i District Health Office on weekdays from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 241-3495.

 

City and County of Honolulu

The Queen’s Health Systems has a calendar of mobile vaccination sites on O‘ahu. Find upcoming COVID-19 vaccination opportunities near you!

Free COVID-19 testing continues for O‘ahu residents in the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (Diamond Head Tour Group Area, just past Baggage Claim 31) until Saturday, August 14. Please pre-register onlineand bring a valid Hawai‘i ID or driver’s license. Children may test for free if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

 

STATEWIDE RESOURCES

Keiki Heroes 

Keiki Heroes encourages and empowers children to adopt healthy habits that will keep them and those around them safe and healthy during the pandemic. Free printable resources, including a new comic on how vaccines create immunity can be found here and activity books in other languages can be found under translated materials. Keiki Heroes provides many other resources for parents, educators and pediatricians such as a vaccine messaging toolkit with social media campaigns, posters, FAQs, and activity sheets for kids.

PSA: E ola mau! Protect your loved ones, get vaccinated.

The Royal Order of Kamehameha I was established by his Majesty King Kamehameha V (Lot Kapuaiwa) to honor the memory of his grandfather, Kamehameha I. The organization continues to guard, maintain, and preserve the rituals and the memory of the aliʻi of Hawai‘i and has a message to the people of Hawai‘i: “E ola mau! Protect your loved ones, get vaccinated.” You may view the PSA by clicking here.

Key Questions About COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) published the article “What Can Employers Do to Require or Encourage Workers to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?” which reviews what employers can and cannot do to require or encourage vaccination of their workers. The CDC also has a Workplace COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit including information on how to build COVID-19 vaccine confidence in the workplace.

Teenlink Health and Wellness Toolkit 

TeenLink Hawaii’s comprehensive Health and Wellness Toolkit includes a variety of resources to promote a healthy lifestyle during the pandemic. The toolkit promotes awareness of our physical, mental, social, and emotional needs while providing tips on how to stay healthy, manage stress, and succeed in school. The toolkit provides sample social media posts created by teens, college students, and young adults. All Instagram posts are available for download print or digital use.

 

PUBLIC HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK

With the return of in-person learning, schools and communities are working to ensure a safe and healthy start to the school year. The Public Health Communications Collaborative and the COVID Collaborativecreated a shareable graphic with six ways that schools can promote COVID-19 vaccination paired with sample social media messages. Schools are trusted institutions in their communities and can play a vital role in boosting vaccine confidence. We want to emphasize the importance of creating a safe and inclusive environment so there can be productive discussions with respect and compassion around vaccinations.

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.