Gov. Ige says Hawaii is prepared for more COVID cases, discusses widespread vaccine distribution

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Over 8,000 passengers arrived in Hawaii on day one of the pre-travel testing program, according to state officials.

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Governor David Ige said that the number of arrivals on Oct. 15 exceeded his expectations.

“It’s 5,000 people … significantly more than we expected,” Gov. Ige said.

However, the governor admitted that there were some flaws that he plans on fixing.

“There were quite a number who came here with their hard copies because they were unable to upload [their test results] into the system,” he revealed.

The governor added that he plans on working with the airlines to space out flight arrival times.

“The schedules bring all of the trans-Pacific flights in all at virtually the same time, and that does create delays in the airport,” Gov. Ige said.

When asked if there is a plan in place if the islands were to see a surge in cases, Gov. Ige said that he believes the state is more prepared than ever before to handle more cases.

“We are providing respite to different facilities on a regular basis. I think that allows us to feel confident that we can deal with an even larger surge than we saw in August and September,” the governor said, referring to the increased number of health professionals on the island.

The next step to rebuilding the economy is dramatically increasing testing capabilities, according to the governor. However, the problem is that the demand for tests worldwide still outweighs the supply.

“To be able to do a half a million tests a month that would really allow us to test virtually anybody we would want to on a regular basis,” Gov. Ige said about his goals for the state when it comes to testing.

He said that he is also planning on bringing back Japanese visitors by the end of this year.

“We recognize that it’s an important market for us. You know, Japanese visitors are always respectful,” he said.

While leisure travel to Japan is off-limits to U.S. residents, a travel bubble with the islands is still on the table, according to the governor.

“They have agreed at least that they will consider Hawaii separate from the rest of the United States,” Gov. Ige said about his talks with Japan.

As far as a vaccine goes, Gov. Ige said that he is in talks with federal health officials. He said a widespread circulation of a COVID-19 vaccine will likely not happen until the second or third quarter of 2021.

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