Hawaii begs travelers not to come as COVID-19 spikes to highest levels

Mon. August 23, 2021 7:59 PM by Gerald Farinas


photo credit // savannah rohleder

Governor says he may lockdown state; tourists wouldn't be allowed to leave hotels

Hawaii has no power to ban flights coming into the islands but the tourists keep coming, including direct flights each day from Chicago. Tourism is one major hurdle to fighting the state's worst COVID-19 surge this year. Gov. David Ige begged travelers not to come unless absolutely necessary.

"It's a risky time to be traveling right now," he said in a press conference Monday. "We are seeing more COVID patients in the hospitals and the ICU's are filling up."

The Democratic governor says the state is reaching a crisis point as acute care beds may have to be turned into ICU beds.

The Queen's Health Systems, the largest medical system in Hawaii, said its West Oahu region is a disaster area.

"The number of new positive COVID cases is just increasingly high, and we're worried about that because it translates to more patients that are going to need emergency care in the hospitals. Between all the normal emergencies and COVID cases, it's overwhelming our systems."

Ige says that if the trend continues, tourists will be coming into a lockdown situation. Tourists would be transported straight to their hotels and would not be allowed to leave.

During the last lockdown in 2020, former Surgeon General of the U.S. Jerome Adams was cited for leaving his hotel to go to a local park. He fought the charge in court.

Hawaii requires COVID-19 tests at approved testing sites on the mainland U.S. before coming into the state. Persons with vaccination cards can bypass certain safety measures.

However, four tourists were recently arrested for using fake vaccination cards at the airports. This indicates that many others may have entered the state with fake documents and not caught.

Chicago is an entrance point for flights from the East Coast and Midwest U.S. to Hawaii. United Airlines has direct flights from O'Hare International Airport to the islands of Oahu and Maui.

Gov. Ige would not explain what circumstances would trigger a new lockdown affecting tourists and locals alike.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi said that all large gatherings in his city and county are limited to 10 persons indoors and 25 persons outdoors. This will affect concerts, sports, weddings, and other such events.

The Hawaii State Department of Health reported 571 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. 359 are on the main island of Oahu. There are 107 on the Big Island, 23 on Kauai, 79 on Maui, and two on the smaller island of Lanai.

Most of the cases were from unvaccinated persons.