Gov. David Ige sets vaccination benchmarks, House Minority Leader points to other states

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Gov. David Ige set additional benchmarks for social gatherings and restaurants on Monday, June 7, as part of Hawaii’s statewide vaccination goals.

These vaccination goals will not change the counties’ own COVID-19 policies relating to structured events and weddings. They only apply to travel, social gatherings and restaurants.

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When the state achieves a 60% vaccination rate:

  • Social gatherings: 25 allowed indoors and 75 allowed outdoors
  • Restaurants: Up to 75% capacity (with maximum groups size of 25 indoors and 75 outdoors)

When the state achieves a 70% vaccination rate:

  • All restrictions terminate.
  • Social gatherings are no longer restricted, and restaurants will continue to be regulated in the normal course by the Department of Health.

“As Hawaii’s public health outcomes improve and our economic situation appears to be stabilizing, I am ending several of the emergency provisions that have been in place for over a year,” Ige said in a news release. “By August, I hope the public health situation will allow me to do the same for others. We can get there if people become informed about their safe and effective vaccination options and choose to get their injections. Remember – the state pushed back the Aug. 15 rollout of the Safe Travels program to Oct. 15. While challenging at the time, it was necessary.”

Many states have reopened completely already, notably Nevada on June 1st.

Still, over the past two weeks, the United States has seen a 39% decrease in COVID-19 cases, a 21% drop in hospitalizations, and a 19% fall in deaths.

State House Minority Leader Val Okimoto says Hawaii has taken an extremely cautious approach, and wants common sense and caution to be the way forward.

“Our hospitalization rates have not really gone up, those are the things we should focus on and for some reason we’ve been fixated on cases and probable cases whereas other states have been able to open up and I don’t hear that they’re having the same issues,” Rep. Okimoto said.

To get to the Governor’s 70% benchmark where all restrictions are dropped, more than 200,000 more people need to get vaccinated. Health officials believe it’s a goal that we can meet.

“The end is in sight, to get to 60% vaccinated we only need less than 130,000 additional doses. Thats not a huge number of doses and to get to 70% we need just under 400,000 doses and again this is very doable,” Healthcare Association of Hawaii President & CEO Hilton Raethel said.

Over the weekend about 16,000 shots were given including 7,000 first doses.

The state says it’s too early to tell if people came out because of the state’s new vaccination incentive program that began on Friday, offering prizes like Hawaiian Miles and free food as part of a sweepstakes giveaway for those who sign up.

“Some of them could have been administered Wednesday or Thursday, and not reported until the weekend because of a lag in reporting. So we’re going to hang on for several days, if not a couple of weeks just to evaluate the numbers,” Department of Health Spokesperson Brooks Baehr said.

To boost these numbers, younger people are the target.

A recent survey found young adults under the age of 35 were the least likely to have been vaccinated at 55%, while 92% of seniors say they’ve been vaccinated.

For those unvaccinated, the survey found many were concerned about side effects and questioned how well the vaccine works. Health officials say they plan to do more to address these concerns.

“We are now going to be re-educating people on vaccines in general because that so far has not been been front in center neither in our research nor in our campaigns and that’s the direction that we are trending forward,” DOH Public Health Marketing’s Bronwyn Sinclair-White said.

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