HONOLUU (KHON2) — The end of the year means the end of the CARES Act money. Programs that help stop the spread of the virus have been supported by this federal aid, so what will happen when funds are gone?
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The city says it plans to use $7 million to continue funding COVID-related programs until June, 2021. The money was budgeted for fiscal year 2021 and was supposed to go into the rainy day fund.
“We believe it’s more important, at this point, to use it, to protect our health and safety more than ever,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Going into the new year, the city says it plans to continue funding programs such as:
- Testing lab operations at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine
- Contact tracing efforts
- Quarantine and isolation units at the Pearl Hotel Waikiki
The estimated total is roughly $5.6 million.
“We have some additional money that if we do need it, we can use it because we have allocated $7 million in total. And those additional things may be such things as assisting with the vaccination,” said Managing Director Roy Amemiya.
Now that the vaccine is in Hawaii, it is being looked at as another layer of protection. Kaiser Permanente says they administered their first COVID vaccine on Thursday, Dec. 17, at their Moanalua location. Kaiser received 975 doses and expects to vaccinate about 200 health care workers on their first day.
“Tripler was selected as one of the initial sites to receive doses of the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Col. Martin Doperak, Hospital Commander at Tripler Army Medical Center.
For security reasons, officials could not disclose how many doses were shipped to Tripler Army Medical Center on Tuesday, Dec. 15, but a few hundred people have already gotten vaccinated. KHON2 has been told told workers in the Intensive Care Unit, emergency room and others in contact with COVID patients will be vaccinated first.
“This first tier includes both active duty, civilians, and contractors who have volunteered to start to receive the vaccine,” said Dr. Doperak.