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First lady Jill Biden promotes vaccinations, supports military families in quick Hawaii visit

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                First lady Jill Biden meets with members of halau Ka Pa Nani o Lilinoe at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam today.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    First lady Jill Biden meets with members of halau Ka Pa Nani o Lilinoe at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam today.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                First lady Dr. Jill Biden waves to guests at the Waipahu High School library after visiting a vaccination clinic in the school gym today.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    First lady Dr. Jill Biden waves to guests at the Waipahu High School library after visiting a vaccination clinic in the school gym today.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                First lady Dr. Jill Biden makes an appearance at Waipahu High School to visit a vaccination clinic in the school gym today.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    First lady Dr. Jill Biden makes an appearance at Waipahu High School to visit a vaccination clinic in the school gym today.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                First lady Dr. Jill Biden arrives aboard Executive One Foxtrot at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Saturday.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    First lady Dr. Jill Biden arrives aboard Executive One Foxtrot at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on Saturday.

UPDATE: 5:25 p.m.

First lady Jill Biden departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam on the jet known as Executive One Foxtrot to return to Washington late this afternoon, concluding her short stop in Hawaii after attending the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Before leaving, she addressed reporters, thanking them for taking the time to cover military families.

A reporter asked her about about anger among some Native Hawaiians regarding the annexation of Hawaii. Biden responded that she did not feel any animosity from anyone while she was on Oahu.

While on the tarmac, Biden posed for photos with Gov. David Ige. and his wife Dawn Amano-Ige.

She climbed the stairs shortly about 4:10 p.m., turned around, waved and said “bye and thank you.

3:14 p.m.

First lady Jill Biden mingled with military families this afternoon before talking about the importance of empowering their social, emotional and physical health at Makalapa Crater at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

About about 75 military personnel and their families ate grilled burgers and played outdoor games such as cornhole while waiting for the first lady to arrive.

Four pink-dressed girls from Aiea hula halau Ka Pa Nani o Lilinoe performed hula before Biden’s appearance.

Ashley Cantero, a 12-year-old military dependent of a single mother, introduced Biden at the event.

Biden emphasized the need to better support military families by providing empowerment for spouses, childcare and high quality education.

“Military families may not wear a uniform, but you serve as well,” she said. “Our troops cant focus on their missions if their families are struggling.”

The health of military families is part of her initiative with President Joe Biden, Joining Forces, which aims to better support military families.

After her speech, as Biden greeted families, the United States Air Force Band of the Pacific gave a live performance.

2:50 p.m.

First lady Jill Biden has departed Waipahu High School and is expected to attend a barbecue with approximately 75 service members and their families later this afternoon at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Guests will include representatives from all military bases on Oahu.

Gov. David Ige and his wife Dawn Amano-Ige will accompany the first lady to the barbecue, where she will be greeted by the commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John C. Aquilino, and his wife, Laura, JBPHH commander Capt. Erik Spitzer and his wife Brooke, JBPHH Command Master Chief Joe Lovelace, state Rep. Scott Saiki and military dependent Ashley Cantero.

2:30 p.m.

First lady Jill Biden implored Hawaii residents to get vaccinated for COVID during her remarks at the Waipahu High School library, which were part of the administration’s effort to improve vaccination rates among Americans.

“I want to thank the millions of Americans who have chosen to get vaccinated and the clinics like this one that made it possible,” Biden said. “And Hawaii has done a fantastic job getting shots in arms. ”

But she cautioned, “We are not done yet. There are still to far too many people who are not vaccinated. That’s why I wanted to come and spend time with you today because Hawaii, your lives, your health, matters to the president and me.”

Biden said the last push to get people vaccinated “just seems the hardest of all.”

“I’m here to ask everyone listening right now to choose to get vaccinated,” she said.

Biden also encouraged those who have been vaccinated to encourage others.

“We need to make our case,” she said.

Biden said COVID is more contagious now than ever, and that it continues to spread.

“Even one hospitalization, one life lost is too many,” she said. “Being fully vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from hospitalization and death. God Bless you all, and go get vaccinated.”

Biden also praised Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s pandemic response.

“David, from the beginning of this pandemic, you’ve done everything that you could to protect the people of Hawaii. You’ve lead Hawaii on our mission to vaccinate everyone and you continue to lead with science and compassion — so thank you for what you’ve done.”

About a hundred people were signed up for COVID shots at the Waipahu clinic, which will take walk-ins through 4 p.m.

2 p.m.

After the vaccination clinic tour, first lady Jill Biden made remarks while visiting the Waipahu High School library.

Biden was greeted by Hawaii Gov. David Ige, who said, “We are so honored that you’ve chosen to spend time with us here in Hawaii, making sure that we are healthy.

“I’m so thankful that our President, your husband Joe Biden, is really focused making decisions based on science and leading our county in a way that protects public health and strengthens our communities.”

Ige added, “Hawaii, like communities across the nation and around the world, is seeing an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases.”

Ige said Hawaii has reached a vaccination rate of almost 60% and “almost all of the people getting sick are not vaccinated.”

1:50 p.m.

A protest outside of Waipahu High School was so large, it caused officials to reroute First lady Jill Biden’s entrance into the school’s gym to visit a pop-up vaccination clinic.

Biden is wearing a pink and blue, ankle-length floral dress with shoulder cutouts. She’s also wearing a white floral mask from inauguration night and Navy espadrilles.

Carl Hinson, director of workforce at Hawaii Pacific Health, and Dr. Melinda Ashton, chief quality officer at Hawaii Pacific Health, were the first lady’s tour guides at today’s Hawaii Pacific Health vaccination clinic.

Hinson told the first lady that every one of the vaccinators are medical students today.

Loise Medina administer a vaccination to two children Josiah Bartolome, 12, and Christlyn Bartolome, 15, while the first lady observed.

Medina is a 2020 Waipahu High School Academy of Health & Sciences valedictorian.Medina, who immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines in eighth grade, has been administering COVID vaccines at HPH vaccination clinics as a way to pay her way through college.

“That’s good news, no reaction from the first dose,” Biden said as Josiah Bartolome told that to the shot administrator.

“If you don’t look, it’ll be OK. I know that as a mother,” Biden said to the teen’s mom.

“Did you see how quick that was?” Biden said after the shot was administered. She and other people in the room clapped.

The Pfizer shot was given.

Christlyn Bartolome was given her dose as well.

“Ahhh,” Biden cooed as the mom and brother both held her hand.

“What a wonderful support system here,” Biden said.

1:19 p.m.

About 20 anti-vaxxers and supporters of former President Donald Trump are gathered outside Waipahu High School, where first lady Jill Biden is visiting a vaccination clinic today.

One man had a black and white flag that said “All Lives Matter.”Another man wore a t-shirt that said “Trump won.”

One homemade sign said “no shots for tots.” Another woman had a sign that had an x with a circle through the words “vaccine passport.”

Two additional demonstrators had homemade signs showing support for the Cuban protesters.

Trump people were yelling outside as the motorcade arrived. “Go home,” one man said. “Trump won,” a woman screamed. Someone has a megaphone too, but their message was inaudible.

“Protect Not Inject,” said a homemade sign.

Carl Hinson, director of workforce at Hawaii Pacific Health, is scheduled to be the first lady’s tour guide at today’s Hawaii Pacific Health vaccination clinic.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Hawaii officials are hoping that first lady Jill Biden’s visit to a pop-up vaccination clinic at a Waipahu High School this afternoon will spur more residents to get their shots as COVID-19 infections surge and vaccinations slow with nearly 60% of the total population fully inoculated.

Hawaii health officials reported 276 new coronavirus cases today, the 11th straight day of triple-digit infections. Officials also reported two coronavirus-related deaths.

Biden arrived in Hawaii early Saturday afternoon for a brief stopover on Oahu, where she stayed at the Presidential Cottage at Marine Base Kaneohe.

The trip to Hawaii followed her trip Anchorage, Alaska, and then the Tokyo Olympics, which was her first solo international trip as first lady. The trip to Tokyo was geared toward generating enthusiasm for the Olympics in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden’s stopovers in Alaska and Hawaii are part of the administration’s on-going efforts to encourage all Americans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, as well as honor the work and service of military families.

The first lady has been touring vaccination clinics across the states.

The administration wants to reach millions of Americans who still need protection against the virus, and to highlight the ease of getting vaccinated.

Today’s Hawaii Pacific Health vaccination clinic at Waipahu High will be open from noon to 4 p.m.

Hawaii residents ages 18 years or older who receive the vaccine will be eligible to participate in the state-run #HiGotVaccinated incentive program, which includes $5,000 checks, holiday packages, and gift cards among other prizes. The clinic will offer Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Those getting their first shot will be able to receive their second dose at the same location in three weeks.

About 70 members of the community are expected to be in the audience to listen to Biden’s remarks following her visit to the vaccination site. The guest list includes: Gov. David Ige and his wife, Dawn Amano-Ige and other guests of the governor, elected officials members of the Hawaii State Teachers Association, Waipahu High School Principal Keith Hayashi, and members of the school community.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Biden’s visit to Hawaii comes as vaccination rates have slowed, but he is hopeful that people will take note of what she has to say.

“I have incredible respect for Jill Biden. I think when we have good role models out here in Hawaii it impresses some people,” Green said. “I think, though, that most people who are interested in being vaccinated and being safe have done so. But maybe she will influence a few more people, if she can influence a couple thousand people it would be great.”

Green said Hawaii has been experiencing a recent surge in COVID cases, which are linked mostly community spread and traveling residents. Only 2% of the COVID cases in Hawaii over the last month have been linked to non-resident travel, he said.

Green said there are rising concerns about the highly transmissible delta variant, which has as much as 1,000 times the viral load of other strains. He said he is worried that without higher vaccination rates, more Hawaii residents will catch the virus just as schools are getting ready to reopen.

Biden is expected to attend a barbecue with about 75 service members and their families at 2:30 p.m. at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Guests will include representatives from all of the bases on the island.

In July 2013, then-Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden attended a USO-affiliated barbecue at Pearl Harbor for about 500 service members and their families.

After the barbecue, the first lady is scheduled to depart from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam at about 4 p.m. for her return trip to Washington, D.C.


This story was compiled by Star-Advertiser reporters Allison Schaefers and Ashley Mizuo, and White House media pool reporter Nikki Schwab.


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