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We’re Not Ready To Welcome Back Tourists, Mayors Tell Governor Ige

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With new surges of COVID-19 cases in key states and a sudden disruption in Hawaii’s testing capacity, Hawaii’s county mayors want the state to rethink its planned Aug. 1 tourism reopening date.

The mayors of Honolulu, Hawaii and Kauai counties say their islands are no longer ready to allow incoming trans-Pacific travelers to opt out of the state’s 14-day quarantine — at least not without some major policy changes.

With local infection rates soaring in Hawaii, and the state’s testing capacity under renewed threat, some county mayors are asking for major changes to Hawaii’s reopening plan or a delayed reopening date.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said he is concerned by the state’s lack of a real-time, digitized system to assist county police departments in tracking visitors subject to the 14-day quarantine, a mechanism that under the current plan would still be in place come Aug. 1 for those travelers who decline to produce proof of a negative diagnostic test for COVID-19.

Both Kim and Caldwell said they put little faith in the quarantine to prevent the spread of infection because, they say, there aren’t enough resources to stringently enforce it.

“I cannot accept their plan to move forward without this being addressed,” Mayor Kim, Hawaii County said.

The poll from the University of Hawaii Public Policy Center asked 600 residents for their thoughts on the state’s response to coronavirus.

The vast majority ― some 88% ― thought various public health restrictions were “mostly reasonable” and more than half said they still felt a little to very unsafe going to places with many other people.

The poll also underscored the scale of the economic devastation that the pandemic has caused.

About 7% said someone in their household had permanently lost a job ― while more than 1 in 3 said a household member had temporarily been laid off.

Some 81% of residents agreed they don’t want “tourists coming to visit their community right now.”

1 reply
  1. Dr Richard Bennett
    Dr Richard Bennett says:

    As 30K tourists per day begin to arrive in the state, we can expect about 1% to be infected or otherwise not detected in the pretravel screening. If half of those, 150 are asymptomatic shedders of virus we should plan for new infection clusters to emerge mostly on Oahu and lesser clusters on the outer islands.

    Tourists are particularly social in typical tourist behaviors. Many of these activities involve group outings on buses and boats. In outdoor activities like hiking biking and just active walks respiratory droplets making contact with others is inevitable.

    Thus, I beg the question, how do we “open” a tourist economy without introducing a number of COVID19 carriers and subsequent infections. If well contained we may avoid becoming one of the epicenter Southern States. Unfortunately, I do not see any evidence of that containment strategy prepared to deal with the tourist onslaught.


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