Weekend COVID cases rise as state figures out a plan to welcome visitors back

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said we’ll find out soon whether or not the two-week quarantine or travelers into the state will be lifted.

Last week, Governor David Ige said he would extend it past the June 30 deadline.

Hawaii saw 20 new cases over the weekend, with nine confirmed on Friday and Saturday, and two on Sunday.

“We had two cases today which is good, certainly concerned when we have nine and that’s a reflection from Memorial Day,” explained Lt. Gov Green. “That was a bump from then and probably some of the parties that happened around graduation and celebrations.”

After this weekend’s peaceful protests, he said we’ll see more cases in the coming weeks, but nothing alarming.

“I won’t be surprised at all, we’re fine, our hospitals are fine,” he said.

“This is going to be the new normal because first we’re going to have these numbers, and then we’re going to open inter-island travel and there will be a couple of cases, and it will be a roller coaster when we open back up to the mainland,” Lt. Gov Green said.

Nearly 2,800 visitors have arrived to Hawaii since June 1.

Green said Gov. Ige will announce soon whether he’ll extend the mandatory 14-day quarantine, or if all travelers will undergo testing before arriving.

“We can successfully launch the plan to have pre-travel testing with this ‘Travel with Aloha program, that will end the need for quarantine. Anyone who gets a test and tests negative will not have to quarantine,” he said.

Those who refuse a test would undergo the mandatory quarantine.

“He [Gov. Ige] has to still review the proposals but it looks more likely that we’ll get that done, I think that’s what people want, I think it makes a lot of sense especially with the surge in other municipalities,” Green said. “We couldn’t open up to California today given the fact they have 2,000 to 3,000 cases a day, that would be too difficult, but if you could have a negative test, it decreases very significantly the risk.”

A travel bubble is also being discussed as an alternative. A travel bubble is an agreement between countries to allow residents to cross borders without a quarantine. A pilot program is being discussed with Japan, who has a low number of cases.

“Gov is looking at relationships with countries that have very low rates like Japan, not because it’s Japan per se, but because they have low rates, I want people to be very clear about that,” explained Green. “The same thing can be said about New Zealand, Australia and Korea, so there is no favoritism, we love our mainland guys just the same, but if there are very low rates and we can do a bubble that would be good.”

Senator Donovan Dela Cruz (D) Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, and the lead for the senate committee on Covid-19 said keeping the quarantine in place with possible exemptions is the way to go.

“The governor has said that the 14-day quarantine is probably going to be extended past June 30. The Department of Health has told the COVID committee that they think the quarantine needs to be in place as long as possible,” he explained.

“It’s probably going to be a strategic combo of two things, keeping the quarantine in place as well as looking into the things that provide public safety and ensure the virus is blocked from coming in from things like the travel bubble and testing.”

“I’m pressing really hard because I know economically, we depend on tourism, and our health comes first but our economic health dictates a lot of other things like our mental health,” said Lt. Gov. Green.

“All of this is in one big discussion but my task is to get us a safe re-entry from the mainland and I’ll be on that all week,” he added.


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