HONOLULU (KHON2) — The federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency officially ended on Thursday, May 11.

That means changes are ahead for those looking for testing and vaccinations.

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Gov. Josh Green and the Department of Health held their heads high on Thursday and said Hawaii had the best pandemic response in the nation.

“More people in Hawaii got vaccinated than almost any other state,” Gov. Green said, “the number was 78.7% got those first two vaccinations, which really made it safer to live.”

Below is a list of what the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency means:

  • Vaccines will remain available
  • At-home tests may not be covered by insurance
  • Free testing and treatment for people with Medicaid through September, 2024
  • Free testing may be available to people without insurance or in areas of high social vulnerability

The DOH COVID dashboard will also still be accessible.

“We will maintain public data dashboards that provide situational awareness of COVID 19 trends and impacts in Hawaii. Data will remain available on COVID 19 hospitalizations, deaths, wastewater testing, variants and vaccination coverage,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble.

“The governor and DOH are proud of their pandemic response, but also admit it was a learning experience and full, statewide lockdowns for any potential future diseases are not likely,” said Gov Green.

He went on to explain further.

“I would be surprised if that happens again,” Gov. Green said. “I will tell you that in conversations with some of the nation’s leaders, they’re already preparing a plan that’s very different,” said Gov. Green.

They’re calling it a 717 plan where they would spend seven days isolating and figuring out what a disease was, one day communicating and then having a seven-day acute response.”

One takeaway for the Health Department was that COVID vaccines do not stop folks from getting — or spreading — the virus.

“So, yes, there was a lot of learning along the way, we did learn that vaccine is not a perfect way to stop the virus in its tracks,” said Dr. Kemble,

Dr. Kemble went to say more.

“But we did learn that it is very effective at preventing severe outcomes of COVID 19; so, while it didn’t completely stop transmission, it certainly made it possible to be able to interact together as we would like to in a more normal way and not fear for terrible outcomes,” Dr. Kemble said.

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The DOH still recommends the first bivalent booster shot for all age groups.