HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii health officials are hopeful with President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates that they will continue to see vaccination rates increase.
One concern, however, includes issues with COVID-19 testing.
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“We definitely have a testing shortage right now, you can see for yourselves all the people lining up to get a test, so we are aware that demand is outpacing supply. I do think some of that is driven by the mandates of vaccine or tests,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, state epidemiologist.
“Just this morning we’re talking about maybe having to switch to those nasal swabs,” said Jacob Schafer, Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center epidemiologist. “Those are those really long scramble the brain swabs because the shallow ones are running on short supply. Again, we haven’t done that yet. But that goes to show that is a very real concern of running out of supplies.”
Hawaiian Electric has over 2,500 employees and the President’s announcement Thursday already aligned with the company’s own vaccine mandate. HECO said the process was going smoothly and also resulted in positive outcomes.
“Before our testing policy was in place, we had about 70% of our employees fully vaccinated and since we’ve implemented our policy, we have 82% now fully vaccinated with 3% receiving their first shot,” said Shannon Tangonan, HECO spokesperson.
Wet ‘n’ Wild has nearly 200 team members on staff and along with President Biden’s vaccine mandate, they will implementing rules of their own.
“If they choose not to start the vaccination process by Sept. 30, we’re going to put them on an unpaid leave for the balance of the 60 days and if ther’re positions available at the completion of the 60 days, we’re going to welcome them back,” said Scott Loos, general manager of Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii.
With Safe Access Oahu starting on Monday, the Department of Health said it will announce more community and school-based testing sites in the coming days.
Businesses said they were ready to comply with the rule for the health and safety of the community.
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“Hopefully this helps curb the challenges we’re in right now and helps with the hospitalizations and gets us to the end sooner and we can all enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families,” Loos said.