Palolo pastor takes proactive approach to get coronavirus shots in arms

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The case count on Saturday, July 31, was the highest single-day tally since the pandemic began.

The Department of Health (DOH) has counted around 1,400 cases since Wednesday, July 28.

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“That’s more than we were having for a whole month,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green. “We’ve seen the highest four days that we’ve seen through the whole pandemic, so I don’t think we should sugarcoat this.”

Despite a higher vaccination rate, the seven-day case average over since the end of June has increased nearly 500%. On June 30, the state had a seven-day case average of 45 — on the last day of July it was at 263.

Some are taking a proactive approach instead of letting COVID-19 rip through communities.

A Palolo Valley pastor has been helping his community throughout the pandemic by going door-to-door and offering everything from food and testing in 2020. He is now going door-to-door to see who is and is not vaccinated and helping get his community to herd immunity.

When vaccine urgency dropped a few months ago, he asked his community what would motivate them to get vaccinated. People did it for their kids or loved ones for the most part.

“We asked if you would consider it [a vaccine] for a gift card to Time’s or Zippy’s and people said yes and we started doing it,” explained Honolulu Bible Church pastor Kevin Kondo. “And we were at 43% when the state was at 56%, and we’re at 65% now, and the state is at 60%, so we hope by the end of today we’ll be at 70%.”

“It’s worked, and we’re hoping this will be used as a model; canvassing door to door, the gift cards as a thank you and incentive, can be used to reach other hard-to-reach communities,” he continued.

Lt. Gov. Green helped put shots in arms in the Palolo community on Saturday and said the state needs to roll out a similar plan soon.

“I asked the governor and mayor’s to give this kind of incentive, it shouldn’t have to come out of his pocket, it’s so generous for him to give $25 gift cards, I think the state should be doing the same thing, $50 for every shot makes sense,” said Green. “They were able to increase their vax rate by 25 percent just by doing this and that’s what we all know we need, we need that last group to get vaccinated.”

With the concerning case counts, Green said emergency discussions should be held before schools start on Tuesday, Aug. 3, and now all eyes are on hospitals that are already full with non-COVID patients.

 “Let me paint a picture for you; if we were to have 500 cases a day which would be 15,000 cases a month, that would be very problematic,” he explained. “That would be over 1,000 hospitalizations each month and that’s probably more than we can handle and we can’t allow that to happen so we would have to put restrictions back into place.”

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