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Mayor moving away from COVID updates

LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek Kawakami’s weekly COVID-19 briefings became a staple of the Kaua‘i pandemic response in 2020, keeping the island updated on the state of the virus and the county’s public health measures.

With the pandemic shifting to the background of public consciousness, the Mayor announced Thursday that he would be moving away from the updates.

While the briefings will continue, the Kawakami said that the focus will shift instead to county matters unrelated to the virus, and Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman will no longer be participating.

“We’ve been recording these video updates regularly for two and a half years. I hope our residents have found them helpful,” said Berreman in her final regular briefing Thursday. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to speak directly to community members, and I hope we have been able to address your concerns. I want to extend my sincere appreciation to Mayor Kawakami and his staff for making these videos possible. They are one of the many ways we’ve been able to serve our community during these challenging times.”

Kawakami looked back on the early days of the pandemic Thursday, giving thanks to the pandemic response team.

“We have come a long way since those beginning days. And as I reflect on those difficult and challenging times, one feeling overpowers all others — and that’s gratitude. We are truly grateful for our entire team — from the medical professionals, our state leaders, our county incident command and first responders, our business community, our visitor industry, our residents from kupuna to keiki… the list goes on and on.”

Kawakami gave special thanks to Berreman, Deputy Director Lauren Guest, and their entire team at the Kaua‘i District Health Office.

“They have been involved in every policy decision, every COVID communication, our vaccine rollout, and they continue to manage our free testing centers. During a time of worry and fear, Dr. B became our voice of reason and our source for accurate and timely information.”

Statewide COVID-19 counts falling, from a daily average of 322 on Aug. 24 to 245 reported Wednesday.

Kaua‘i’s seven-day average is at 16 cases a day, up slightly from 13 cases last week. No deaths were reported.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized updated COVID booster shots targeting the Omicron subvariants.

The Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) recommends the use of these vaccines, which are more effective against the majority of cases in the state.

The Omnicron BA.5 subvariant accounts for an estimated 91% of the COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i and the BA.4 subvariant accounts for an additional 4% of the cases in Hawai‘i.

“The COVID-19 boosters we have been using do a good job of protecting us against severe illness. The new bivalent boosters are an upgrade because they take into account mutations of the COVID-19 virus to specifically address Omicron subvariants,” said State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and DOH recommend the booster manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech for people age 12 and older and the Moderna booster for adults age 18 and older.

The federal government allotted DOH initial orders totaling 37,800 doses of bivalent boosters, which will arrive in the coming days. DOH will place additional orders weekly as needed and pharmacies and community health centers are placing orders for bivalent doses independent of DOH.

Scheduling of booster appointments will be done by individual vaccine providers once they receive delivery of bivalent boosters. Find information about providers and the services they offer by visiting the vaccine finder map at https://hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine/.

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available on Kaua‘i. For a list of vaccination locations, visit www.kauai.gov/vaccine or call the Kaua‘i District Health Office at 808-241-3495.
Source: The Garden Island

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