Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the state is considering an immunization verification program, similar to that in San Francisco and New York City, that would require people to show proof of vaccination against the COVID-19 to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and other indoor establishments.
He said such a policy could be in two to three weeks.
“We are working on this policy and giving it to the governor as an option,” Green told Spotlight Hawaii this morning.
A vaccine verification program for businesses is one of a number of options Green said the county governor and mayors are considering, as the highly contagious delta variant causes an increase in COVID-19 cases across all. the islands and an influx of patients into hospitals. Green said imposing a curfew to relieve pressure on emergency rooms is an idea, but he doubts that will happen.
As part of the public pushes for stricter measures to control the spread of the virus, Green said political decisions are complicated.
âI know there are people who say, ‘Look, shut this up,’ Green said. “But it’s a pretty difficult thing to do when suddenly a family that has been vaccinated won’t be able to pay their rent, won’t be able to pay their mortgage, won’t be able to pay for their children’s groceries, may not have additional protection. against unemployment.
Green said it was difficult to punish everyone because 17% of residents eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine still haven’t received it. The vaccine is available to anyone aged 12 and over. But if the number of cases cannot be controlled or there are outbreaks in schools, Green said the state will likely have to consider closures.
As of this morning, 381 people were hospitalized with COVID statewide, 90% of whom are unvaccinated, Green said. On July 1, before the delta variant of the coronavirus caused a spike in cases, there were only 40 people hospitalized with the virus, according to state data.
Green has so far said that it appears hospitals in Hawaii will be able to absorb the rising number of COVID patients. There are 3,200 hospital beds statewide, of which approximately 2,200 are currently staffed. The state is bringing in more than 500 rescuers, including intensive care nurses and respiratory technicians, to help increase the number of patients, which will allow hospitals to open more beds.
Green said the state also has a variety of options if capacity is eventually exceeded, including transforming hotels into makeshift hospitals, using the National Guard to set up portable hospitals and the use of the Hawaii Convention Center for patients.
At the end of the more extreme options is building a new facility, which would cost around $ 300 million. âThis would be the case if we had months and months of high levels in the hospital and our hospital facilities could not survive,â he said.