COVID-19 surge leaves would-be Hawaii travelers scrambling to find tests

Published: Nov. 18, 2020 at 10:24 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases on the mainland is making it harder for visitors to fly to ― and for residents to return to ― the islands.

That’s because many of Hawaii’s trusted partners ― the pharmacies, diagnostic labs and clinics that provide tests for travelers to Hawaii ― are having trouble keeping up with demand for the tests.

Just ask travel executive Juergen Steinmetz, the chair of the World Tourism Network, who earlier this week tried to book a COVID-19 test appointment for his partner in California.

“When you go and try to schedule, there’s nothing available. I tried it for three days, and we had a three-day window, and there was not one appointment," he said.

“It was like trying to get a driver’s license appointment in Hawaii. It’s even worse.”

Frustration levels are mounting for would-be Hawaii visitors who say they aren’t getting their tests results back quick enough. Some are worried about having to quarantine in hotel rooms for 14 days during their vacations.

“Because of the surging numbers on every state on the continents, it’s becoming harder and harder to find tests that you have to pay for," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Caldwell worries that the lack of test availability could affect visitor arrivals. That’s why he thinks the state or city should also provide tests for visitors after they arrive at the airports.

“I would like to do a post arrival test. Our mobile lab at the airport could do that,” he said.

But to do that, Caldwell said the state’s 14-day quarantine order would have to be revised.

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