Surge in COVID-19 cases across US raises questions about Hawaii’s plan to reopen tourism

Surge in cases elsewhere forcing state leaders to reassess reopening plan set for August 1

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is still planning on allowing tourists without a mandatory quarantine on Aug. 1, provided they get a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of landing and that test is negative.

But Gov. David Ige admitted in a press conference Monday afternoon that the surge in cases from other states is concerning.

“I did have a discussion with all the mayors this morning,” Ige said. “We will do an assessment and reassessment of what we see occurring on the mainland right now.”

University of Hawaii Epidemiology Professor DeWolfe Miller said the state should have unveiled their plan to reopen by now.

“We’re very concerned that there’s being pukas put into this whole plan that will undermine the plan and put Hawaii at risk again,” Miller said.

Miller said he and other professors and experts from UH offered suggestions, but Ige is not taking them. Those include a shorter timeframe to get tested pre-travel.

“I would like 48 hours, or somewhere in between 48 to 72,” Miller said. “Seventy-two is a little too long. We don’t want someone to go to a party between the time they get tested and they get on a plane.”

Ige’s response to that shortened window: “It is about finding balance, looking at how long it takes to actually schedule a test and then get the test results back. We do believe the 72-hour window is an appropriate balance.”

The delay in the release of the state’s plan has upset many in the tourism industry who want to notify guests booking reservations.

If a traveler cannot get the test ahead of time, will one be offered here upon arrival? And what about returning residents whose travel is less than a week? These are questions the industry has been fielding.

Health officials have said the state’s testing capacity has doubled in recent weeks to up 7,000 per day, and that contact tracers are now at 170, with hundreds more being trained.

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