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Hawaii state, county workers face vaccine, testing rules

August 6, 2021 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — As Hawaii reported another high Thursday in the number of new coronavirus cases, Gov. David Ige announced requirements for all state and county employees to disclose their vaccination status.

Employees who don’t show proof of vaccination by Aug. 16 must take weekly tests and those who don’t comply could be fired, Ige said.

There were 655 new cases reported Thursday — the highest single daily count of the pandemic.

“We’re seeing widespread community transmission along with clusters in groups of people who are unvaccinated,” said Dr. Elizabeth Char, director of Hawaii’s Department of Health. “The return to normalcy we were all fighting so hard to attain is now in jeopardy.”

Hawaii’s indoor mask mandate remains in place, and Ige said he strongly encourages wearing masks outdoors if in a large group or unable to maintain social distancing.

The disclosure of one’s vaccination status and testing requirements also apply to Hawaii’s largest state agency, the Department of Education. Thursday marked the third day of a new school year, with most students returning to campuses.

The department is delaying the start of the fall sports season to allow time for student athletes and staff to get vaccinated, said Keith Hayashi, interim superintendent.

A joint statement from six Hawaii public unions said they strongly encourage vaccines and that the governor’s emergency proclamation will impact members’ working conditions.

“Details on how tests will be administered, how results will be kept confidential, and how the state will fund this mandate will need to be negotiated with the state and we look forward to having those discussions right away,” the statement said.