Gov. Josh Green, state health officials discuss end of COVID-19 emergency

May 11—Gov. Josh Green held a press conference at 2 p.m. today to discuss the end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency.

Speakers included Green, Director of Health Kenneth Fink and State Epidemiologist Sarah Kemble.

"Today is an important milestone," said Fink. "The end of the public health emergency represents a transition from COVID-19 being pandemic to being endemic. It means the worse is over but COVID-19 is still sticking around and something we'll need to live with."

Although the public health emergency is ending, Fink said it was important to remain vigilant.

During the press conference, Green credited the public of Hawaii with coming through the pandemic with the country's lowest mortality rate. He thanked residents for wearing masks, following government directives and getting vaccinated.

"It really was something we will never forget," Green said, saluting health care workers who stood fast during the darkest moments.

Kemble also expressed gratitude for public's compliance and understanding.

She said free vaccinations will remain available for now. The state Department of Health is committed to working with federal counterparts in continuing equitable access to vaccines, Kemble said.

For people with Medicaid coverage, COVID-19 testing and treatment will remain covered at no cost through September 2024.

Kemble noted that at-home tests may not be available for free as federal guidelines for insurers change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a no-cost testing locator where members of the public can find facilities and providers that currently offer low- or no-cost testing. Visit for testing sites.

DOH will continue to reach out to individuals to investigate outbreaks and other related events.

While the CDC will discontinue reporting of COVID-19 Community Levels and some other COVID-19 metrics like test positivity as case data becomes less reliable.

DOH, however, will continue local data collection and maintain public dashboards to provide awareness of COVID-19 trends in the state.

In January, President Joe Biden announced that the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 will come to an end on May 11, nearly three years after they were first declared. The expiration comes as most of the world returns closer to normalcy after the coronavirus pandemic prompted the institution of sweeping restrictions and precautionary measures.

Vaccine requirements for federal workers and federal contractors, as well as foreign air travelers to the U.S., will end May 11. The government is also beginning the process of lifting shot requirements for Head Start educators, healthcare workers, and noncitizens at U.S. land borders.

More than 1.13 million people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began more than three years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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