Surge in COVID-19 infections on the mainland has some in Hawaii worried

Updated: Jun. 30, 2020 at 12:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases on the mainland, some are worried about the timing of Hawaii’s plan to reopen the tourism industry.

Starting Aug. 1, visitors will be allowed to avoid quarantine in Hawaii if they present a negative COVID-19 upon landing.

But questions about how the tests will be conducted and verified are causing concern. The tests must be completed no more than 72 hours before coming to the islands.

The plan to reopen tourism also comes as Hawaii is seeing spikes in new COVID-19 cases.

Ahead of the July Fourth weekened, leaders are begging people to avoid crowds.

“Please, please, please practice all the proper protocols or we’re gonna be facing difficult decisions like the mayor of Houston recently where he’s stepping back, shutting down bars. The mayor of San Francisco slowing down the reopening. We don’t want to do these things,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Officials estimated 10,000 people attended “Floatilla” in Waikiki on Fourth of July in 2017. This season’s beach vibe is much different.

Nevertheless, Hawaii’s health director is still urging people to think small and mask up.

“Consider this ‘ohana bubble concept.’ It’s important. People should be celebrating with friends, but not in large groups. Small is good,” said Bruce Anderson.

Brandon Park and his girls wear masks when they’re out at all times even at the beach.

“I guess it looks kind of silly but COVID-19 is still going on. There has been a spike in infections over the last few weeks and it’s a serious thing,” said Park.

Beaches in Florida and California are now closed for Fourth of July weekend.

Plus, with another 37,000 new cases on the mainland just on Monday, more than a dozen states are rolling back reopening plans, including California, Nevada, and Washington State – some of Hawaii’s top visitor markets.

Hawaii’s recent surge in cases doesn’t compare to other states – and most cases in the islands are tied to family clusters, nursing homes and series of gatherings for a funeral responsible for 17 cases alone.

“Last weekend’s situation certainly pointed to the explosive potential of the COVID-19 and how difficult it is if you have a gathering, a large crowd together to control it,” Anderson said.

State health officials maintain Hawaii’s numbers are under control and hospitals are in good shape – they just want to keep it that way.

“I know our numbers are a lot lower than the mainland so I guess we might be doing something right,” said beachgoer Amy Strange.

Hawaii has had 250 new cases statewide in June.

After the Fourth of July and the tourism reboot, the next big test will be the start of fall classes in August.

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