Lt. Gov. Josh Green said today Hawaii’s vaccination rollout is on track to allow for in-person classroom learning by mid-May, adding that students and parents need it to happen as soon as possible.
“I think when our educators are vaccinated, we should open the schools, that simple. And I think that’s going on right now, we’re aggressively vaccinating our teachers as we speak and those who support the schools across the board,” he said. “There’s no real reason that come May 15, we can’t encourage all of our schools to the best of their ability to get back in-person.”
Hawaii could deliver up to 80,000 doses per week, but the federal government is not close to meeting the state’s vaccine distribution capacity. Green said this week Hawaii is expected to receive 42,800 doses this week, 49,600 next week, and 50,700 the week after that. In addition, the military is receiving its own supply in Hawaii, and CVS pharmacies will receive over 4,000 vaccine doses, to distribute at select Long’s locations across the state.
“It’s going well. In fact, if would go even better if we had more from the feds,” Green said. “We’re seeing lower cases week after week. We’re not in the clear yet, but it’s going pretty well.”
Green, who is spearheading both the vaccine roll out and the Safe Travels program, said he hopes to amend the travel requirements to allow travelers to bypass the testing requirement, provided they can show they have received the second dose of a vaccine at least two weeks post-arrival. Green expects by March 1, CISA exempt workers would be able to travel under that new rule, all inter-island travelers to do so by April 1, and all mainland travelers to be allowed to do so by May 1.
“That will really mean that by the summertime we can have lots of safe travelers, and remember the more important part is that we will be safe,” he said. “Because on May 1, we will have… 850,000 shots, so we will have that protection so that no matter what happens, we’re basically safe. This is the way we restore our economy very quickly. We would likely see a huge uptick in visitors by say, the fall this way.”
Green took questions on a variety of topics, including a bill making its way through the state Legislature that would prohibit lieutenant governors from holding side jobs. Some see the measure as targeting Green, who works as an emergency room doctor on Hawaii island, in addition to his work at the state Capitol.
“Honestly we just don’t have any time for political games,” he said. “Any leader who’s not completely focused on stopping COVID right now is really not doing the people a service that they deserve.”
Green added that since the bill in question would likely take effect in November 2022, it would have little impact on him personally.
“I’ll not be lieutenant governor at that point,” he said. “People will either choose me as governor or they won’t. There’s no secret about that. But I think we should be focused on COVID and saving lives.”
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