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Mental Health, COVID-19 Variants & School Guidance



Starting this week, anyone in the U.S. can now call, text, or chat 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The pandemic has increased trauma, stress and mental health concerns. During the first year of the pandemic, the U.S. experienced the highest ever combined rates of deaths due to alcohol, drugs and suicide. When calling 988, you can talk with a trained counselor who can help them with a mental health emergency—including self-harm, suicidal ideation, and substance use issues—and connect you with mental health and substance use treatment.


Omicron BA.5 Variant 

According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a new omicron subvariant known as BA.5 now comprises a majority of U.S. COVID-19 cases.


New COVID-19 Boosters 

The CDC’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee voted in favor of Omicron-adapted boosters after a public meeting on June 28. New boosters will target Omicron variants and are anticipated to be available this fall.



COVID-19 Cases, Testing Positivity, Hospitalizations & Community Levels
Data as of July 13, shows a decreased average in new COVID-19 cases and positivity rate.

  • COVID-19 Community Levels remain HIGH on O‘ahu, Maui and Kaua‘i. Hawai‘i is now in the MEDIUM level.
  • What does that mean? It is highly recommended to wear a mask. Avoid large gatherings. Stay up-to-date with vaccines and boosters.
  • View COVID-19 Community Levels by clicking here.


Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Schools Available Aug. 1 

The Hawai‘i Department of Health is revising Hawaii’s K-12 school guidance on masking:

  • Indoor masking will be optional.
  • Indoor masking will be strongly encouraged when COVID-19 Community Levels are high and medium.
  • The complete school guidance document including information on classroom ventilation, staying home when sick, COVID-19 testing and more will be available on August 1, 2022.


Comms Crash Course: Using Social Media for Public Health Communications

Social media has proven critical for disseminating accurate and timely information during the COVID-19 pandemic. From inclusive and accessible language, to image and graphic use, to channel-specific strategies, this FREE webinar will share fundamental social media strategies and best practices to address public health communications challenges.


Women-Powered Public Health Communication 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the public has been flooded with information coming from a variety of sources.To help people wade through this information overload and to promote media and science literacy, a group of researchers launched a pandemic-related website with social media presence. Stay informed with the latest pandemic information through articles on


Communicating With Vaccine-Eligible Children and Parents

Talking to parents about vaccinations may be uncomfortable. Asking questions and listening to the experience and values of others can bring compassion into the conversation. View a few quick and easy talking points on eligible children getting COVID-19 vaccines.


The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Download this infographic to share with your networks as a resource to assist others in assessing how they are feeling. Individuals who are able to evaluate their symptoms, can find the appropriate help they need. Some self-care activities to improve health include:

  • Exercising (e.g., aerobics, yoga)
  • Engaging in social contact (virtual or in person)
  • Getting adequate sleep on a regular schedule
  • Eating healthy
  • Talking to a trusted friend or family member
  • Practicing meditation, relaxation, and mindfulness
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