‘The first thought is disappointment’: A rise of COVID cases in Hawaii causes holiday disruptions


HONOLULU (KHON2) — From travel plans to sporting events, the sharp rise of COVID cases has disrupted the 2021 holiday season.

Thousands of United Airlines passengers faced delays as the airline said approximately 120 flights around the country have been canceled due to a rise in COVID cases among its flight crews.

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A Thursday evening flight from LAX to Honolulu was canceled on the day before Christmas Eve; experts said it is the busiest day of travel.

Hawaiian Airlines, for its part, said COVID has not disrupted operations, but the same cannot be said for the Hawaii Bowl. For the second year in a row, the football game is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, disappointing fans of the Rainbow Warriors.

“The first thought is disappointment — disappointment for, especially, the players. The coaching staff, the department, the Memphis team, these guys traveled from the middle of the country all the way over here to not have a game.”

UH sports fan Ben Ayson

Those who purchased game tickers will automatically be refunded between five to seven business days.

The rise of COVID cases is not yet being reflected in the number of COVID hospitalizations, however, the Hawaii Nurses Association President Daniel Ross said they are not out of the woods. He said the latest rise of cases is starting to cause issues, and he is hearing more workers are needing to quarantine.

“We’re part of this community, health care workers are part of this community,” Ross explained. “So if the numbers rise in the community, the numbers are going to rise among the healthcare workers. We are not separate from the community.”

Ross is concerned this could further strain already limited staffing levels at hospitals.

To address this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends asymptomatic medical workers to return to work after a seven-day quarantine, as well as a negative COVID test. Isolation could also be cut short if there is a staffing shortage.

Ross does not favor this recommendation.

“It’s not based on new data that they’ve come out and said, ‘Oh look they found out that this quarantine period is sufficient we don’t need to do that,’ it’s based on a shortage, it’s based on a shortage of nurses,” Ross continued.

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Ross also said a shortage should be resolved by hiring more workers.

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