Danny De Gracia: Ready Or Not, Hawaii Needs Covid-19 Vaccine Passes Now - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


When the state first broke the threshold of more than 1,000 Covid-19 cases earlier this month, Hawaii House Speaker Scott Saiki excoriated Gov. David Ige with a blistering press release.

“The Governor needs to do more than request the public’s cooperation,” Saiki said, urging immediate implementation of what he termed a “health pass” for people to enter “establishments, such as restaurants, gyms, and stores.”

Hawaii is the Aloha State, and rarely do leaders check one another with aggressive language. Instead, we must read between the lines and understand that Saiki’s comments were essentially a nice way of saying that Ige’s press conferences are a daily public emasculation of the state.

The governor has the power to stop delta now but won’t step up and do it.

Day after day, Hawaii has seen the situation with the delta surge become more dire, and the best Ige’s administration can offer is to tell the public to please take this seriously by getting vaccinated, washing your hands, covering your face and staying home if you’re sick. However, we all know people don’t do that, and won’t do that, and that’s precisely why Covid is running wild.

Saiki’s suggestion for a health pass was considered, but consideration didn’t come fast enough as numbers continued to go in the wrong direction for intensive care unit utilization and overall infections. We also are now seeing younger people in the hospital. It was teased in response that a statewide health pass might be available by Labor Day, but it would likely be optional.

On Friday, another return to 1,000-plus numbers as well as more deaths prompted Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi to take matters into his own hands and attempt to cut off the need for a shutdown with a heads up that a vaccine pass of his own would be forthcoming. And on Sunday, Hawaii started this week with a whopping 1,678 new cases, close to half of which may be backlogged numbers from earlier this month.

Between all the doctrinal chaos and inter-service rivalry between the City and County of Honolulu and the state of Hawaii, local residents are the ones suffering the most as leaders can’t get on the same page to fight Covid.

Let me make things simple for our leaders: Don’t overthink this vaccine pass. If you don’t act now, we are going to see a lot more deaths, and that is something we should all seek to prevent.

Hawaii Pacific Health Vaccine bus COVID-19 vaccination card.
Everybody who has been vaccinated should have received a CDC card that could be used as proof. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

Don’t Obsess Over The Vaccine Pass

I recommend the following:

• Roll out a temporary vaccine pass mandate that is simple and easy to enforce.

I can’t believe I have to say this, but everyone who has been vaccinated already should have received a CDC card. By the time our leaders figure out how to do a digital pass that is purportedly fraud-free, the virus will have already broken our health care system and ravaged our population. The actual point of a pass is reducing overall infection rates, not ensuring 100% compliance.

We are at a point where days and even hours count. I say issue a very short, possibly 30-day order saying that anybody who wants to go someplace in public between 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., must show proof of vaccination by simply flashing the CDC card.

For simplicity, businesses should be allowed to verify a customer’s card, and have the option of providing a daily wrist band so customers don’t have to keep showing the card once verified. The Legislature can follow up with a special session to enact a law with a sunset date for automatic repeal if this needs to be extended.

• Urge everyone to get tested in the next 72 hours and provide surge testing sites.

People have said, “We won’t test our way out of this.” That’s BS.

The real problem is asymptomatic community spread. In order to identify who actually needs to stay home, everyone, especially on Oahu, should get tested over the next 72 hours even if they feel no symptoms. By doing this, we can avoid a general shutdown by actually having the people who are infected know they are infected and stay home now. This process should be repeated every two weeks until the numbers drop.

• Stop sending unvaccinated keiki to school.

“We have multiple layers of defense” is a discredited political gimmick, not a viable public health strategy. If you want to drop the Covid numbers, shut down the schools for everyone under the age of 12 since younger children aren’t yet eligible for vaccination.

This is about ending the pandemic, not placating political desires. If we have to figure out something for those under 12, we will, but send them home for now.

• Implement telework for everyone who is not essential or performing in-person customer service.

We don’t know the actual antibody response of everyone who is fully vaccinated. Delta exploits the immune systems of both unvaccinated and weaker, vaccinated people. As such, if you want to lower the exposure rate, let people work from home. Are we working in the office because we are mission critical, or because we want it to look like everything is normal when it’s not?

Getting Hawaii under control this week is not only doable, it’s absolutely necessary. If we can stop clinging to mercenary notions of economic gain and fixate on smashing delta, we might be able to stop the next wave from even manifesting.


Read this next:

Eric Stinton: More Money Is Not The Only Way We Can Help Teachers


Not a subscription

Civil Beat is a small nonprofit newsroom, and we’re committed to a paywall-free website and subscription-free content because we believe in journalism as a public service. That’s why donations from readers like you are essential to our continued existence.

Help keep our journalism free for all readers by becoming a monthly member of Civil Beat today.

Contribute

About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


Latest Comments (0)

The only thing I agree with in this opinion is the testing part.  Make it free and readily available at all drug stores, pharmacies and any other qualified outlet that people can get to, rather than have a few try and profit off testing as it is now.  No one is going to wait in line at the airport for hours to get tested and testing remains the key to knowing.  Rapid testing is a better way of detecting and controlling spread, vax or not.  A friend of mine visited Monaco a few weeks ago, they didn't care about his vax card.  Restaurants pointed him in the direction of a pharmacy a few doors down, where he got a rapid test result in 15 min. and was able to dine thereafter.  People who are vaxed are possibly a higher risk spreading covid, thinking they are immune and partying like rock stars, then taking no precautions thereafter.  I would rather be around negative results than vaccinated who could possibly be carriers, so forget your vax pass.  

wailani1961 · 2 weeks ago

Shut down da Hawaii show fo couple months numbas going drop! We going struggle but we already struggling! Close da  airport stop da virus HELLO! We need da money fo support ourselves not going help if you sick or dead! Government can bailout Hawaii small kind grant fo taking Hawaiian dignity wit dey  guns! You know da ova tro of our monarchy Afta all look Afghanistan left behind billions in  arms and munitions to terrorist! Vaccinations been helping but not guaranteed then again not many guarantees in life! Hurry up and live nuclear war may be next! 

Ehcivilbeat · 2 weeks ago

Vaccine pass has no teeth and too many loopholes such as grocery stores won't need to show a pass.  So unvaccinated people can go to Costco and buy food for party at a home or the beach.Government needs to make not getting the vaccine tied to money if the goal is to get as much people vaccinated.  Such as EBT card holders need to prove vaccinated or not get money, government student loan won't be funded unless show proof, students over 12 who not vaccinated don't get free meals, non-profits need to show proof that it's workers are vaccinated or lose non-profit status, unvaccinated and need hospital care then you pay insurance premium or part of cost associated with covid treatment.  Anytime things tied to money, people will have the chance to weigh if they want to still stay unvaccinated or not, right now the government is just giving away free money to the unvaccinated and penalizing the vaccinated.

roger808808 · 2 weeks ago

Join the conversation

About IDEAS

IDEAS is the place you'll find essays, analysis and opinion on every aspect of life and public affairs in Hawaii. We want to showcase smart ideas about the future of Hawaii, from the state's sharpest thinkers, to stretch our collective thinking about a problem or an issue. Email news@civilbeat.org to submit an idea.

Mahalo!

You're officially signed up for our daily newsletter, the Morning Beat. A confirmation email will arrive shortly.

In the meantime, we have other newsletters that you might enjoy. Check the boxes for emails you'd like to receive.

  • What's this? Be the first to hear about important news stories with these occasional emails.
  • What's this? You'll hear from us whenever Civil Beat publishes a major project or investigation.
  • What's this? Get our latest environmental news on a monthly basis, including updates on Nathan Eagle's 'Hawaii 2040' series.
  • What's this? Get occasional emails highlighting essays, analysis and opinion from IDEAS, Civil Beat's commentary section.

Inbox overcrowded? Don't worry, you can unsubscribe
or update your preferences at any time.