HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The governor is expanding a mandatory, 14-day quarantine for air travel to include all inter-island passengers as part of a push to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state.
The broader quarantine measures go into effect Wednesday at 12:01 a.m. and extend through April 30.
“These are unprecedented times,” said Gov. David Ige, in a news conference Monday.
“In order to protect the health and safety of Hawaii’s people, I along with the county mayors have had to take drastic measures in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. But more must be done.”
Last week, in addition to issuing a sweeping stay-at-home order, the state instituted a first-in-the-nation quarantine on all visitors and returning residents from the mainland and international destinations.
The order has brought travel to Hawaii — a state that depends on tourism — to a virtual standstill.
But there’s been growing concern the virus could spread within the state, potentially overwhelming small Neighbor Island health care systems that already run with shortages of doctors.
Those who rely on inter-island travel to visit family or for work say they’re worried about how the quarantine order will affect them.
Honolulu resident Patricia Souza frequently visits her mother who is in hospice on the Big Island. She fears she may not see her again because of the new mandate.
“I cannot see her. I cannot be with her and they’re going to let me know as she gets worse and worse," Souza said. “It’s really hard because when you’re living off island and then this happens, it kind of just interrupts the process.”
Maui resident Art Fillazar arrived on Oahu on Monday afternoon, found out about the order, then immediately returned home.
“That’s a shock. It’s too bad they couldn’t notify us earlier. But if it has to be done, it has to be done. It’s for the safety of everybody. So, we might as well all stay put on our own islands and be safe and not get sick or not spread germs," said Fillazar.
“Lifestyle will definitely change and hopefully everybody will be able to survive.”
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Maui Mayor Mike Victorino has supported an inter-island quarantine order to protect Molokai and Lanai — both of which haven’t seen any reported cases of coronavirus.
In a statement Monday, he said the broader quarantine measures are the “next step that Neighbor Island mayors have been discussing to help curb” coronavirus in Hawaii.
“We want to see inter-island travel reduced to only those who must travel to provide essential public services, such as medical care for our residents.”
The quarantine measures do not apply to essential workers or to flight crews, though those who do fly inter-island are being asked to wear protective equipment.
The governor announced the new order in a news conference at the state Capitol amid growing concerns about the spread of coronavirus on Oahu.
On Monday, the state reported 29 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. The cases bring the state’s total to 204, or more than double what Hawaii was reporting just five days ago.
Here’s the county-by-county breakdown:
- Oahu: 131 (15 new)
- Maui: 25 (5 new)
- Big Island: 14 (2 new)
- Kauai: 12 (0 new)
- Pending: 20 (7 new)
- Diagnosed out of state: 2 (0 new)
State Health Director Bruce Anderson said Hawaii is seeing “localized” community transmission of coronavirus. And a new map released by the department on Monday night shed new light on where cases are centered:
“We are concerned about the increase (in cases),” Anderson said. “This is the time to take these measures on mitigation very seriously. Don’t let down your guard.”
The state has said that at least 12 people have required hospitalization in Hawaii for COVID-19. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said at least half of those people are in the ICU, and two are currently on ventilators.
There have been no confirmed coronavirus-linked deaths in Hawaii.
Meanwhile, at least 55 people have been “released from isolation." That means it’s been three days since they’ve exhibited symptoms or seven since they first got sick, whichever is longest.
And there have been about 8,700 tests conducted statewide.
This story will be updated.