Governor David Ige is reviewing the necessity for vaccines for some staff in Hawaii

The number of daily new coronavirus cases remained in the triple digits for the 12th straight day on Monday, with 163 new confirmed and probable cases reported by the Ministry of Health.

Though it’s down from the high of 276 reported on Sunday, the seven-day average of daily new cases jumped to 185 nationwide and the positivity rate to 4.6% on Monday.

In Honolulu, the average positivity rate was higher at 4.9%, and in Hawaii County it was even higher at 7%.

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients also rose from 74 on Friday to 90 on Monday, 20 of them in intensive care and 12 on ventilators.

Hawaii’s vaccination rate spiked 1,744,704 doses over the weekend, 4,800 more than Friday, according to DOH, bringing the state’s completed vaccination rate to 59.8%.

As the number of daily cases increases due to the Delta variant and declining vaccination rates, the nationwide conversation has focused on the need to prescribe COVID-19 vaccines for certain workers.

On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first major federal agency to request that health care workers receive COVID-19 vaccines.

New York City announced Monday that it will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all city employees, including teachers and police officers, or weekly tests through mid-September. California said it will ask the same of its health care workers and government employees over the next month.

Governor David Ige said he was considering considering such mandates for Hawaii but made no commitments.

Ige told the Honolulu Star Advertiser’s Spotlight Hawaii livestream show Monday that he was “considering what the best public health program would be for our government employees.”

Testing costs have come down significantly, Ige said, and quick and accurate antigen tests for COVID-19 are available for less than $ 10.

“As you know, we have had outbreaks in correctional facilities and prisons and we are looking into whether we should require vaccinations within these occupational classifications,” said Ige. “We also test the ones in these convention environments more regularly because we know we want to be ahead of the game and want to make sure we keep those in congregation environments healthy and safe.”

Ige also said the state may need to consider a mandate prior to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the COVID-19 vaccines, as there is no clear timetable.

The University of Hawaii has meanwhile informed unvaccinated students that they will have to undergo a mandatory weekly COVID-19 test on one of its 10 campuses this fall.

In an update distributed to UH faculty, staff and students over the weekend, UH President David Lassner said that unvaccinated students should also be aware “that they may and may not be eligible for some employment opportunities are excluded from participating in certain classroom training “. Activities “such as clinical work and field research, and therefore can be” prevented from meeting educational requirements “.

“Unfortunately, it should be clear to everyone that COVID-19 conditions in Hawaii, across the country and around the world have worsened,” Lassner said in Friday’s update. “A new variant is exploding, and we have now seen more than a week with three-digit numbers of new cases on the islands every day. And important COVID-19 indicators have doubled in the wrong direction in the last two weeks. “

Earlier this month, UH said it won’t enforce COVID-19 vaccination requirements this fall as previously expected, as none of the vaccines offered in Hawaii have yet received full FDA approval. In addition, according to UH, surveys show that more than 90% of students and staff have already been vaccinated or are planning to vaccinate.

Lassner said that unvaccinated students are not excluded from face-to-face or mixed classes. However, vaccinations are required for students residing on campus, with religious and medical exceptions.

In addition, teleworking will once again be an option for UH employees, said Lassner, who previously announced that everyone would return in person on August 3rd, with full, face-to-face support and services available.

Lassner said UH will also start talks with its unions about a vaccination mandate for employees.

“The vaccination is without a doubt the most important step you can take to protect yourself, your family, your colleagues, your campus and your community,” said Lassner in his letter. “Vaccination is free and readily available on our islands. If you have not yet been vaccinated, please, please, please do so now. “

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