Hawaii governor not ready to drop travel restrictions as Delta variant spreads in state
HONOLULU (AP) — Uncertainty remains about when Hawaii will drop its requirement for vaccinated travelers to have negative coronavirus test results so they can avoid quarantine after arriving in the state.
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green wants the state to drop the testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers ahead of the July 4 holiday, but Gov. David Ige is reluctant.
Ige would not commit to dropping the travel tests on Monday, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
The Democratic governor said earlier this month that testing requirements for vaccinated domestic travelers would end once 60% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated. That figure has been slow to climb in recent weeks and currently stands at 57%.
“We do anticipate crossing that 60% threshold,” Ige said. “It is hard to predict exactly when that would happen because of the fact that the pace of vaccinations is actually slowing and the number of vaccines administered in the last week is significantly lower than the number of vaccines administered, for example, two weeks ago.”
But Green, who is also a Democrat, said there could be confusion and conflict if the state doesn’t drop the requirements soon.
“It’s just really important that Hawaii not get a black eye by being unclear,” Green said.
Gov. David Ige said earlier this month that testing requirements for vaccinated domestic travelers would end once 60% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated. But that figure has stalled in recent weeks and currently stands at 57%. (Photo: Adam-Springer / Getty Images)
He said the state should end the requirement on July 1. If officials wait until after the holiday weekend – when Hawaii expects about 30,000 daily visitors – then “we are going to have a lot of confusion and a lot of large conflicts,” Green said.
Ige is monitoring vaccination rates and said any changes will be made early enough to give travelers and companies time to prepare for the lifting of restrictions.
All trans-Pacific travelers coming to Hawaii must currently provide negative COVID-19 test results or quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. The next phase of restrictions will allow inoculated travelers to upload their vaccination cards to avoid testing and quarantine rules.
Ige said all pandemic-related restrictions will end when 70% of residents have been vaccinated.
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Hawaii detects community spread of COVID-19 delta variant
The so-called COVID-19 delta variant, which was first detected in India, is spreading in Hawaii, state health officials said Tuesday.
Two cases on Oahu and one on the Big Island were associated with travel from the U.S. mainland. One case involved an Oahu resident with no travel history.
The state Department of Health said it is “investigating to determine the extent of household and community transmission.”
The delta variant now represents more than 20% of coronavirus infections in the U.S. in the last two weeks, or double what it was when the Centers for Disease Control last reported on the variant’s prevalence.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, warned that the U.S. could be following the United Kingdom’s course, where the variant has become the dominant strain due to rapid spread among youth.
Fauci said indications are that the COVID-19 vaccines remain effective against the variant.
All but one of the four Hawaii cases involved unvaccinated people, said Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting state epidemiologist.
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