Ige made the remarks this morning on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Hawaii live broadcast. During the discussion, Ige said he still supports Honolulu’s tiering system, which was developed before the COVID-19 vaccine became available and uses health metrics as benchmarks for easing and controlling. tightening COVID-19 restrictions.
“Right now I’m worried because we’ve been really stuck at a high level,” Ige said. “As you know, we have recorded an average of almost 100 cases and 80 to 90 cases over the past week and it has not really gone down even though more people are being vaccinated. So we continue to review the data and try to make the best public health decision possible. “
Ige said the basic public health behind Honolulu’s tier system still made sense.
“This virus is transmitted from person to person as people interact. If the viral activity is very high, we really want to restrict the interactions. If the activity of the virus is low, we can allow more interactions in our community, ”he said.
Ige said epidemiologists told him the state was seeing “more clusters of small groups.”
Ige said the next four weeks will be very important in controlling the spread of the virus, as Hawaii strives to ensure that vaccination distribution exceeds infections.
“Public health officials are really worried, because as more infected people can be vaccinated, we might end up with a variant where the vaccine isn’t as effective… and then we might be back. where we were 12 months ago with a very infectious virus and a vaccine that doesn’t work against it, ”Ige said.
Ige said the state has launched a campaign to encourage more people to get vaccinated.
“What we are seeing is that maybe those who are now eligible may not have been as motivated or they have waited for a while and they don’t see a sense of urgency,” said Ige. “The sooner we can achieve collective immunity, the sooner we will return to the new normal.”
Ige said it was for these and other reasons that the state would not update its mask mandate to comply with new CDC guidelines that have relaxed some mask requirements for fully vaccinated people.
“Because we can’t recognize which ones were vaccinated and those who didn’t, we figured it would just be easier to keep the mask’s current mandate and then we would change it, I think, to as more and more people get vaccinated.
On May 11, the state will begin allowing travelers, who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in Hawaii, to travel between the islands without being tested.
Ige said the state couldn’t discriminate between Hawaii residents and visitors, so it couldn’t offer a vaccine exemption to transpacific travelers until the state could verify the vaccinations performed in other states. Ige said the state turned to CommonPass and CLEAR to find a solution.
“It will be a long way off, at least two weeks off, before we can get verification of vaccinations done in other states,” he said. “I think this is an important part of our program, and if we are able to verify the immunization status of those who have been vaccinated in other states, then we could reopen the trans-Pacific journey.”