Report: Screening visitors for temps, symptoms would miss two thirds of infections

Chief state economist Eugene Tian said visitor expenditures will likely decline from $21...
Chief state economist Eugene Tian said visitor expenditures will likely decline from $21 billion in 2019 to $9 billion this year. The recover could take years, he said.(none)
Updated: Jun. 9, 2020 at 1:01 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid growing debate about how to reboot tourism to the islands, a new University of Hawaii and East-West Center analysis paints a stark picture of what could happen if visitors aren’t tested for COVID-19 before vacationing in the state.

The report presents a plan for reopening Hawaii’s tourism industry that would require visitors to test negative for COVID-19 before getting to the islands in order to avoid a 14-day quarantine.

And it says not testing would miss up to two thirds of visitors infected with the virus, potentially overwhelming Hawaii’s health care system.

[Read more: Experts: Reopening tourism without requiring visitors to get tested could trigger ‘disaster’]

In fact, the report concludes that if Hawaii were to see about 6,000 visitors daily without testing ― but with temperature and symptom screening in place ― the state could see roughly 750 active infections in the community each month.

Without any testing or screening, the state could see 1,125 new active infections monthly.

Since the pandemic began in March, Hawaii has seen 682 confirmed cases of COVID-19, one of the nation’s lowest infection rates. The death toll from the virus in Hawaii stands at 17.

“Testing travelers coming to our islands is essential to keeping us an attractive COVID-safe destination for tourists and to achieving a strong Hawaii economy,” the report’s authors conclude.

The report was a collaboration of the Economic Research Organization of the University of Hawaii, the East-West Center and the UH medical school.

And it comes amid growing discussions about how to reopen tourism to Hawaii.

A mandatory quarantine for all trans-Pacific travelers remains in place, and the governor hasn’t said when he hopes to resume tourism to the islands.

He has said he intends to extend the trans-Pacific quarantine beyond June 30.

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