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A recent statewide survey found 91% of participants plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine. State officials say it's a strong indication that attitudes about the vaccine are rapidly shifting since vaccinations began in mid-December.
The survey was commissioned by the state Department of Health. According to its results, 55% plan to get vaccinated as soon as they are eligible, while 36% say will wait before receiving their vaccination.
Previous survey conducted by the DOH and University of Hawaii before the vaccinations were being administered showed about 50% of residents would accept the COVID-19 vaccine. The other half indicated they did not plan to get vaccinated or were still undecided.
"This is a positive change in a relatively short time," said health director Elizabeth Char. "As we anticipated, those who were initially hesitant about getting the vaccine are now much more comfortable as they see family, friends, co-workers and other safely receiving their first and second doses."
Anthology Research conducted the survey between December 30, 2020 to January 11, 2021. More than 400 adult full-time residents responded.
Where we stand
The state Department of Health reported 56 new cases and five new fatalies on Wednesday.
According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 40, Maui 9, Hawaiʻi Island 2, and Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi had no new cases. Two residents were diganosed out-of-state.
The latest state count brings the Oʻahu total to 21,423, Hawaiʻi County 2,203, Maui 1,882, Kauaʻi 179, Lānaʻi 109, and Molokaʻi 25. The number of out-of-state cases totals 763.
Since the pandemic began, the state has tallied 26,584 cases. The death toll stands at 423.
State bills propose lowering voting age
Voter turnout in Hawaii hit a record in last year's elections -- nearly 70%. Mail-in voting appeared to boost participation, two-thirds of ballots were cast by mail.
Several other ideas to deepen civic engagement were discussed in a recent panel put on by the Hawaii Judiciary History Center.
Another approach under consideration is lowering the voting age.
Dyson Chee, Coalition Director of Vote16HI, says lowering the voting age to 16 would benefit the community as a whole.
"At 18 years old, especially in Hawaii, one, you're off to college. Two, you're probably off to the mainland for college, because sad as it is, we have a serious issue with our brain drain," Chee said.
"16 and 17 year-olds have slightly more stable lives than those in the 18-24 age range. And so that's the point of lowering the voting age to 16 is to increase engagement in the long run."
Chee says data shows that lowering the voting age is beneficial to a democracy, and it has increased engagement in places from Austria to certain counties in Maryland.
Vote16HI is following eight different bills before the legislature that would lower the voting to 15, 16 or 17 with certain conditions.
-- HPR's Noe Tanigawa
City Council discusses easier remote accessibility
The Honolulu City Council wants to make it easier for residents to participate remotely in city-related meetings.
The Council's public infrastructure and technology committee held a special meeting Wednesday to discuss a measure urging city agencies, boards and commissions, administration and Council to increase public accessibility.
Committee Chair Carol Fukunaga emphasized the importance of resident participation in local government, and the need for the City to adapt during this time.
Common Cause Hawaii board member Michael Golojuch, Jr. says the organization supports the council's efforts for more transparency.
"We believe a roll call vote is a good issue for people whose internet may be spotty -- so they know exactly how each council member is voting on every issue," Golojuch said. "Remote testimony is also good for those who are homebound, that cannot make it to either Honolulu Hale or when you're at Kapolei Hale."
Golojuch told the committee he believes phone access remains an important option for those with no internet.
-- HPR's Casey Harlow
The Aloha United Way is calling today "2-1-1 Day."
The organization is using today's date of February 11 as a reminder to raise awareness about the free public help phone line of 2-1-1.
Residents across the state can call that number to get information about COVID-19 -- from tests to vaccines. You can also find out about resources covering areas from food and housing to utility bills, childcare, and even getting legal help.
You can reach someone to talk with seven days a week -- from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Aloha United Way says that since the pandemic began, they've seen a dramatic increase in the use of the 2-1-1 line -- up 600%.