New Vaccine Mandates for State Workers

Emily Velasco, News

COVID-19 numbers and death rates are rising in Hawaii, leading to new COVID-19 vaccine mandates for state workers implemented by Governor David Ige. 

“The highly contagious Delta variant creates a big risk of infection, especially for members of our community who are not vaccinated,” Governor David Ige said about the new mandates in a press conference on Aug. 5. “With spiking COVID-19 case numbers, we have to take measures now to prevent an unmanageable strain on our healthcare system. This new vaccination and testing policy for State and county workers will help protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Hawaiʻi.” 

Interim Department of Education Superintendent Keith Hayashi states that the Farrington-Kaiser-Kalani, Kaimuki-McKinley-Roosevelt, and Pearl City-Waipahu complex areas have attained vaccination rates of over 90%. 

“Preliminary numbers show nearly 85% of all salaried HIDOE employees at the school and complex area level are fully or partially vaccinated,” Hayashi adds. 

But those who are not vaccinated must undergo weekly testing at various COVID-19 sites and present negative test results. 

According to KITV4, free COVID-19 testing is available at CVS/Longs Drugs, Walgreens, and the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Other testing sites are also accessible but some sites, like Walgreens and CVS, require scheduled appointments online and available times are on their websites. 

The Delta variant is a main cause of concern since it was discovered to be even more deadly than the Covid-19 disease. According to the CDC, the Delta variant can cause twice the amount of infection as the original strain. 

COVID-19 numbers reached an all-time high, peaking at 886 infections on average over a 7-day span with a high of 9 deaths on Aug. 27. With the vaccine mandates Governor Ige said he hopes to get at least 70% of Hawaii’s population vaccinated to achieve herd immunity and to keep Hawaii’s residents healthy.