The Latest: 3 Deaths, 106 New Cases; Saiki: Mass Vaccination Centers Not Finalized

Jan 13, 2021

Updated 1/13/21, 11:58 a.m.

Any reports of mass vaccination centers being set up in Hawaii are not yet definite says House Speaker Scott Saiki.

His office has been coordinating efforts with Hawaii Pacific Health, Queens Medical Center and the state Department of Health. But no contracts for any mass vaccination centers have yet been executed.

In a memo sent to state House members, Saiki called out Lieutenant Governor Josh Green for making premature statements about mass vaccination centers to the media.

Saiki wrote that Green “disseminated unconfirmed information” and misinformed kupuna who are waiting to be vaccinated.

In an email, Green wrote that he appreciates Saiki’s help and is focused on getting the elderly vaccinated as soon as possible.

Saiki says the public can expect details on any mass vaccination centers when the plans are confirmed.

-- HPR's Ashley Mizuo

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 106 new cases and three new fatalities on Wednesday.

According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 73, Maui 11, Hawaiʻi Island 7, Kauaʻi 2, and Lanai and Molokaʻi had no new cases. 13 residents were diagnosed out of state.

The latest state count brings the Oʻahu total to 19,462, Hawaiʻi County 2,037, Maui 1,342, Kauaʻi 169, Lanai 106, and Molokaʻi 25. The number of out-of-state cases totals 592.

Since the pandemic began, the state has tallied 23,733 cases. The death toll stands at 312.

City discusses reopening organized sports sooner

The Honolulu City Council wants to get local youth safely back on the field sooner under the city's tiered reopening. Under the current system, organized sports and athletic activities rae allowed under Tier 4 -- where new cases have to average 20 or lower, and a positivity rate under 1%.

The Council's Executive Matters and Legal Affairs committee met Tuesday to discuss the impact the city's plan has on youth sports and athletic organizations.

Committee Chair Andria Tupola led the discussion, citing Utah as an example of allowing high schools to safely compete. 

Hawaii Youth Soccer Association President and Executive Director Scott Keopuhiwa says he believes his organization and others can operate safely, and return to helping local youth reach the next level.

"We realize that the case counts are very high right now. But with team organized sports not being able to get back until Tier 4 -- that's not even in sight for us," Keopuhiwa said. "We've already been out for 10 months, and it could be another 10 months before we get below 25 cases a day."

Keopuhiwa, who also coaches club and high school soccer teams, says the pandemic has had a devastating impact on older student athletes -- especially those who haven't committed to a college or need extra playing time to get noticed.

For Punahou senior Eli "Matagi" Thompson, not playing sports the past year has impacted his chances of getting more athletic scholarships. Thompson currently has an offer at the University of Hawaii, but he points out that many other student athletes in Hawaii may not be as fortunate.

"Not being able to have organized sports here in Hawaii has been a huge disadvantage," Thompson said. "Because states such as Utah, Florida and Texas they're all open . . . But by them having seasons, colleges can evaluate their film."

"If we had a season, many athletes would have enough film for coaches to commit to us, and so that we can commit to them."

Karin Ng, a schools liaison at the state Department of Health, told the Council committee the DOH is currently drafting protocols and guidelines to safely resume organized sports. She expects the guidelines to be published by the end of the month.

In the meantime, the committee passed a resolution that would create a stakeholder group to work with the City Council and Blangiardi administration on the safe reopening of organized sports and activities.

-- HPR's Casey Harlow