Neighbor islands could see a vaccination passport program if case counts don’t improve

Coronavirus

HONOLULU(KHON2) — Safe Access Oahu takes effect in two weeks, requiring employees and patrons to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to get into restaurants, gyms and several other businesses. Neighbor island mayors said they do not plan to follow suit, yet.

Hawaii county’s positivity rate sits at 9.0% according to the Department of Health, the highest in the state. And Hilo Medical center is overwhelmed.

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“Our capacity is well over 100,” said Hilo Medical Center Director of Public Relations Elena Cabatu. “We have an 11 bed ICU. We are currently running well beyond the 11 beds.”

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth said he is trying to do what’s best for his community and isn’t sure a vaccination passport is it.

“We are assessing the situation from all different angles,” Roth said. “How it looks for us as far as people in their jobs, Will this cause people to lose their jobs? We don’t have the ability in the past to get unemployment, PPE, the things that the government had last year. Will this actually make a difference and get those extra people vaccinated and bring down those counts at our hospitals? Does that separate our community more or does it bring them together? Really we’re trying to bring people together to do the right thing.”

But he said it is a possibility if things don’t improve.

Kauai has the lowest positivity rate at 5.1%. But before implementing any type of vaccination passport, Mayor Derek Kawakami wants to see how things go in Honolulu first.

“We’re going to see how the businesses and the customers are responding to it,” Kawakami explained. “We’re also going to see if it does anything to shave off the case counts. When government has to intervene and throw restrictions in front of a community. There’s a lot of pain involved in that. And there are a lot of consequences that come at a cost.”

But, he too is ready to pivot if things get worse.

The positivity rate on Maui is currently 6.6%, the second lowest in the state.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is still very concerned. He said both a 72-hour stay-at-home order for Labor Day weekend and a vaccination passport are on the table for Maui County.

“We are in the process of setting down some changes that we have instituted recommendations that we got from the Department of Health and others for some restrictions that will be in line with what is happening in our community right now,” Victorino said.

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He said he will explain more once the governor approves his request and assures everyone he will give ample time to prepare for any changes.

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