Governor David Ige said the state has done a great job of setting up a broad network of locations to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine, but that Hawaii’s rate of vaccinations is being hampered by a bottleneck at the federal level.
“We could easily provide inoculations to twice the number of people that we are currently doing each week,” the Governor said this morning on Spotlight Hawaii.
Ige said the state is receiving up to 40,000 doses each week, and distributing them as quickly as possible.
“We’re not sitting on it. It’s a pretty effective and efficient system that we have.”
Ige himself has still not received a COVID-19 vaccine, but hopes to in the next week or a two.
In a wide-ranging interview, the Governor took questions about the COVID-19 variants now present in Hawaii, potential changes to the Safe Travels program, loosening restrictions on Oahu’s tier system, and Aloha Stadium. He also took several questions about unemployment benefits, which have been delayed due to issues with the state’s antiquated computer system.
“That is the most asked question I get here in the governor’s office, about those that have applied and have not gotten an answer back yet. And it’s unfortunately that the system is just so old that it’s very hard to predict when we would be able to complete the changes necessary,” Ige explained.
The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations is working off mainframe from the 1980s, which was recently approved to be replaced. But that multi-million dollar project will not be completed any time soon, and is of little help to current jobless claimants. Thousands of Hawaii residents are waiting for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits that were approved in December.
“These are new programs and new requirements that make it difficult. These old systems do not allow us to rush it, because if in fact the systems crash that would really be devastating and we would be unable to deliver services for a real long time,” Ige said.
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations and to view the rest of this month’s schedule.