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Despite Omicron spread, travelers continue to flock to Hawaii for the holidays

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 3:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Travel during the holidays has likely already reached its peak, and it’s happening during a surge of COVID-19 infections on the islands.

In the past week, the state has had more than 30,000 travelers screened for Safe Travels daily. That’s more than what Hawaii saw the week of Thanksgiving.

Leaders with the hotel industry say they are watching cases closely and are making sure that they are reminding visitors to be safe — but most travel-related cases aren’t from visitors.

Health officials say they urge residents to be extra careful when they return home.

On Kauai, over half of the 41 newly reported cases today are travel-related.

“If you look at the Department of Health dashboard, you can see it’s quite evident that the large part of any introduced infection into the community here is due by returning residents more than it is by travelers,” said DeWolfe Miller, a epidemiologist and professor with the University of Hawaii.

“Christmas, we usually, you know, travel,” said Henrietta Mei, a visitor from Massachusetts. “So that’s why we decided to come now. But then Omicron comes up and everything is already booked. So we just come by faith.”

Some visitors said they feel that, despite a local surge, Hawaii is one of the safest destinations.

“The Health Department in Hawaii has done a marvelous job of screening,” said Marsha Barton, a visitor from California. “Maybe if it was another destination, we might not be going right now.”

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