Amid Omicron cases and vaccination recounts, Hawaii remains vigilant

When it comes to the COVID-19 Omicron variant, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green says the state will maintain its current vaccine and restriction protocols, but remain watchful as new research emerges. The Hawaii Department of Health confirmed the first case of the variant in the state on Thursday, and has since announced two additional cases on Monday.

 

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Green said Hawaii’s done well with cases over the last few weeks, despite the detection of the Omicron variant.

“We’ve not seen an increase in our positivity rate and we’ve seen a significant decrease in our number of active cases in our hospitalized patients. So we’ve not seen any variant, Omicron or any other variant, surge in the state of Hawaii in the last several weeks. So we’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to control it, as before, with a very comprehensive vaccination program, mask wearing, and careful gathering rules indoors.”

Green noted the Hawaii Safe Travels Program, which requires domestic travelers to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival or provide a negative test or proof of vaccination, adds another layer of protection for residents. 

Hawaii’s vaccination rate has also played a role in determining restrictions and reopening protocols in the past. Gov. David Ige lifted a number of restrictions on Dec. 1, and COVID protocols vary by island

In late November, Honolulu Civil Beat reported a decrease in the state vaccination rate for those that have received one dose. This was due to the state updating its immunization registry and correcting booster doses that were categorized as initial doses. As of Tuesday, 77.6% of the state has initiated one dose, and 256,135 booster doses have been administered. Over 14,000 booster doses were administered over the weekend.

Green said the state may adjust vaccination protocols as more research about the Omicron variant becomes available, but encouraged people to continue getting vaccinated in the meantime. 

“Right now, most of the cases are still the Delta variant. [It’s] 99.9%, we’re told. So getting vaccinated now, if you haven’t yet done it, is very smart…We’re going to study each of the variants as they come out, and we will adjust the vaccination regimen if needed over time. This is not a process that just suddenly stops, [where] you’ve just got your vaccinations and it’s totally over. We just really have to be consistent.”