Honolulu mayor: Omicron variant a concern but no reason to ‘overreact’

U.S. officials are raising concerns about the potential spread of a new COVID variant.
Published: Nov. 28, 2021 at 6:59 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 28, 2021 at 7:10 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As a growing number of nations impose travel restrictions from some African countries, U.S. officials are raising concerns about the potential spread of a new coronavirus variant.

But officials in Hawaii said there are no plans to tighten restrictions.

They stress the Omicron variant hasn’t been detected in the islands. They also say while the mutation is a concern, Hawaii has a vaccination rate and low infection and hospitalization rates.

“So we’re going to track this really closely ... but we need to go on with our lives right now,” Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi told Hawaii News Now on Friday.

“And we have no reason whatsoever here in Hawaii to worry about that other than it just being a concern.”

He added: “Right now, we have a very high vaccination rate. We have our case counts are well under control. The hospitals themselves are well-managed. We have no reason right now ... to overreact.”

National public health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci are concerned that the new variant’s high number of mutations suggests that it could more transmissible and more resistant to vaccines.

“Inevitably, it will be here. The question is will we be prepared for it,” Fauci said.

But Lt. Gov. Josh Green said many experts believe the current vaccine will provide some protection against the new variant.

He said more studies over the next two or three weeks will likely determine whether this version is more infectious or more drug resistant than previous variants.

Green said the state’s Safe Travels program adds another layer of protection for residents.

That’s because it requires visitors traveling here to show proof of vaccination or have a negative COVID test with 48 hours of traveling here to avoid a mandatory 10-day quarantine, he said.

“We knew there will be challenges, even if they’re not as bad as the Delta variant,” said Green.

“We really do not want to lock down again ... We really do not want to restrict any activities. We really want to get back to normal.”

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