HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite the CDC warning people to stay home for Thanksgiving, Hawaii saw one its busiest travel days since the start of the pandemic on Wednesday.
The state says about 100,000 people have arrived at Hawaii’s airports in the past week.
Some 15,000 passengers were registered to arrive on Wednesday through the Safe Travels program.
“The traveling has been easy. There has been no people. It’s been easy and breezy actually,” said Anita Sainato, who is visiting from Missouri.
The Sainato family from St. Louis haven’t seen their son, who is stationed in Hawaii, in more than a year. They said the trip to Honolulu was worth the risk.
“The holiday coming up, we thought it would be a great time to visit him,” Sainato said.
Buddies Joe Peraino and Jack Fletcher are trying to escape both the cold and COVID-19 in Chicago, which is seeing a spike of thousands of cases daily.
“There’s not much to do there, just sit in your home because it’s so crazy. Can’t go out. But here, at least you can go out,” said Peraino.
“Everything is pretty much closed down again. And you can’t really go outside since it’s freezing cold,” Fletcher said.
According to the state’s website, about 265,000 travelers arrived in Hawaii so far this month.
That’s more than the total number of travelers from March 23, when the state went into a lockdown, until the end of October.
According to medical experts, returning residents not tourists have a higher rate of infection and put the community at greater risk.
“The returning resident comes back to the community, the home, the family, their people that they work with the places where they go to eat and have entertainment,” said epidemiologist Dr. DeWolfe Miller.
The Department of Health reports the number of returning residents with the virus is rising, especially on Kauai. That’s prompted Kauai’s mayor to propose a temporary opt-out of the state’s pre-travel testing program in hopes of bringing their numbers down.
The request is still waiting on approval from the governor.