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The Conversation: Vaccinating Hawai‘i Before COVID-19 Variants Spread

People line up to get COVID-19 vaccinations in Lihue on March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)
AP Photo/Caleb Jones
People line up to get COVID-19 vaccinations in Lihue on March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

The latest scramble to vaccinate people before COVID-19 variants spread; Combatting crime in Waikiki as tourists return; Reality Check with Civil Beat; Tobacco Trust Fund's possible elimination; Manu Minute introduces us to the m?l?, the Laysan albatross
The latest scramble to vaccinate Hawai‘i before COVID-19 variants spread

Acting state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble spoke with us about the race to achieve herd immunity vaccine coverage as different COVID-19 variants are identified across the globe. Over the last few weeks, the UK and South Africa variants, among others, have been detected in the state's genetic testing. With more visitors arriving for spring break combined with the relaxation of local restrictions, Kemble said it is likely we'll see some uptick in cases. Since the more vulnerable populations have been or are being vaccinated, she said the hope is that we see fewer hospitalizations.

Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist

Combatting crime in Waikiki as tourists return

Credit Courtesy of Mufi For Honolulu / YouTube

The pandemic, homelessness, crime and human trafficking were some of the topics discussed at last week's Visitor Public Safety Conference, hosted by the Hawai‘i Lodging and Tourism Association. 

The Honolulu Police Department, tourism organizations, and local government officials gathered virtually to discuss programs and initiatives to combat crime as visitors return to Waikiki.

Former Honolulu mayor and head of the HLTA Mufi Hannemann spoke with us about the conference

Mufi Hannemann, former Honolulu mayor and head of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association

Reality Check with Civil Beat: Hawaii Capitol Closed to Public, Open to Lobbyists?

Credit Hawaii State Capitol

Some Hawai‘i lawmakers have hosted in-person meetings with lobbyists, business leaders and government officials while the State Capitol has been closed to the public, Civil Beat reporter Blaze Lovell shared with us today. Lovell requested a list of people who have been granted access to the building and said there were more than 200 visits in February. Read Lovell's full article here.

Blaze Lovell, Honolulu Civil Beat reporter

Tobacco Prevention and Control Trust Fund's possible elimination

A bill calling for the elimination of the Tobacco Trust Fund came before state senate committees Wednesday. The fund sets aside millions of dollars for programs to help prevent nicotine addiction and help people to stop smoking. Lola Irvin from the state health department and Donita Garcia of Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center, a recipient of the fund, talked about the fund and how it has impacted their lives. 

Lola Irvin, Department of Health Chronic Disease Prevention division, and Donita Garcia, Hawaii Health and Harm Reduction Center

Manu Minute: The Long-lived Laysan Albatross

Credit Alex Wang

M?l?, or Laysan albatrosses, breed in large numbers across the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, with nearly a million birds counted on Midway island alone. Click here to read today's Manu Minute.

Patrick Hart, UH Hilo professor


This month we’ve been asking you to share your last memories of feeling normal before the pandemic. If you have any comments or feedback, let us know by calling the Talkback Line at (808) 792-8217, or recording a voice memo on your smart phone and sending it to talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.

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Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is the energy and climate change reporter. She is also the lead producer of HPR's This Is Our Hawaiʻi podcast. Contact her at sharrimanpote@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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