Hawaii Reinstates Inter-Island Travel Restrictions as COVID-19 Cases Surge

Governor David Ige announced yesterday that he will bring back Hawaii’s inter-island travel restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid the recent escalation in new infections, with state health officials forecasting further deaths and hospitalizations in the coming weeks.

According to CNBC’s analysis of data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, as of August 6, Hawaii’s count of new coronavirus cases has risen by more than 85 percent over the previous week and reached a record high of 132 new cases daily, based upon a seven-day rolling average.

“There is no question that the virus is surging in our state, and I know that many are worried about their health,” Ige said yesterday at a press briefing. “As we reopened our community, people let their guard down. It’s been very disappointing.”

“I have been working closely with all of our county mayors and we agree that reinstating the inter-island travel quarantine is necessary and the right thing to do at this time. We must protect our neighbor island residents in light of the alarming increase in COVID-19 cases on Oahu,” said Governor Ige.

Effective August 11, inter-island travelers will be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival or for the duration of their stay, whichever is shorter. At this time, the quarantine restrictions will apply only to those arriving on the counties of Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao. The inter-island restrictions are set to continue through at least August 31, unless extended by a separate proclamation.

The previous inter-island quarantine order, implemented on April 1, affected all travelers between any of the Hawaiian islands but was lifted back on June 16.

“I know that many of you will be disappointed to hear this news—inter-island travel was an important way for families to keep in touch—but I wish this was not necessary, but the health and safety of our community remains our highest priority,” Ige said. “I hate it when I see people not wearing masks, gathering in public places at the beach or at the parks, or partying with no regard to the health and safety of our community.”

The relatively small state’s roughly 3,000 COVID-19 cases might seem like a low number compared to other U.S. states’ totals, but Ige reiterated that the recent spike threatens to overwhelm the capacities of Hawaii’s proportionately smaller hospital system.

“We’re also seeing an increase in hospitalizations, and from the beginning we have all stated that our health-care capacity is a key indicator that we need to monitor to ensure that the number of Covid-19 cases does not overwhelm our hospitals and our health-care system,” Ige said.

Already, over half of the intensive care unit beds on Oahu, home to the capital city of Honolulu, are filled, said Bruce Anderson, director of the state’s Department of Health.

“At this time, it’s projected that our intensive care units at the hospitals on Oahu will be filled to capacity and overrun by the end of this month,” Anderson said. “There will be more deaths and more hospitalizations in weeks to come because of gatherings and other activities from crowding.”

For more information, visit governor.hawaii.gov.

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