Amid concerns about travel, state worries there’s a ‘stigma’ brewing against visitors

Amid concerns about travel, state worries there’s a ‘stigma’ brewing against visitors
A member of the Friday's convoy expresses her opinion in hopes of encouraging visitors in Waikiki to cut their vacations short. (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Department of Health is worried Hawaii residents may be getting the wrong idea about visitors in the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an email received Friday night, Hawaii Department of Health Spokesperson Janice Okubo said, “I have been informed that there are residents of Hawai‘i who believe the COVID-19 positive cases here are all visitors to the state, and unfortunately, there is stigma developing against visitors in Hawaii.”

The email continued: “I am asking the media to help the public understand that of the 37 positive test results to date, 32 of them are the result of traveling residents. The majority of cases are residents who returned home after traveling.”

Five of the total 37 cases are from visitors. Its not clear if any of those five are related to the community spread of the virus that health officials have said is beginning to occur in the islands.

This statement comes after a convoy of vocal residents drove from Honolulu’s International Airport Friday — where there are still many flights coming in with reports of passengers going unchecked — to Waikiki.

State leaders in both the House and Senate are calling for Gov. Ige to institute stricter quarantine procedures for incoming travelers and a shelter-in-place order for those in the islands.

Councilman Ikaika Anderson also had pointed words toward companies catering to visitors. Residents have complained that tour buses continue to drop of tourists at beaches and other local attractions.

“City beach parks are closed. So if there are companies that are doing that, knock it off. Stay out of our communities right now, particularly, when you are bringing visitors from who know where into our residential communities to mingle with our residents,” Anderson said.

But the Department of Health is reminding the public that regardless if you’re a visitor or a resident, watching your health is key.

“It is important for all travelers to monitor their health for 14 days after traveling and to stay at home if they become sick and avoid exposing others,” Okubo said.

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