Early and aggressive native measures coupled with a strictly enforced statewide journey quarantine stored the island’s 72,000 residents largely wholesome — with solely 61 recognized coronavirus circumstances from March via September. However on Oct. 15, the state allowed journey to partially resume
Kauai then went from having no lively infections in any respect within the first a part of October to at the very least 84 new circumstances within the ensuing seven weeks. The surge seeded group transmission and led to the island’s first — and up to now solely — COVID-19 dying.
Hawaii’s cautious reopening allowed vacationers who examined damaging for COVID-19 earlier than they flew to the state to sidestep quarantine guidelines.
After the island’s first recorded dying, Kauai officers stated they’d opt-out of the state’s testing program and require guests to once more quarantine for 2 weeks whether or not or not they examined damaging for COVID-19 earlier than arriving.
Officers say the single-test scheme didn’t do sufficient to guard the individuals who stay there. With solely 9 ICU beds and 14 ventilators, the island’s well being care system might shortly develop into overwhelmed by a big outbreak, stated Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami.
Searching for to forestall such a state of affairs, Kawakami proposed a compulsory second check for all passengers after arrival. His plan would have included a brief quarantine whereas individuals awaited their second end result.
However the proposal was turned down by state officers, with Democratic Gov. David Ige saying the plan must be domestically funded and administered.
After the Kauai surge, the state Division of Well being traced many of the island’s October and November circumstances to returning residents and vacationers who introduced the virus in regardless of the pre-flight testing program. Earlier than the pandemic, Hawaii welcomed day by day about 30,000 vacationers who spent practically $18 billion final yr.
In March, when the state’s two-week quarantine rule was imposed, vacationer arrivals and income plummeted. Customer numbers elevated with the testing program, however solely to a few third of pre-pandemic ranges.
Different high Hawaii officers, in the meantime, insisted that the pre-travel testing program works – regardless of the brand new an infection surge and report deaths on the U.S. mainland.
“The proof is within the pudding,” Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Inexperienced stated. “Hawaii has the bottom price of COVID within the nation due to this program proper now.”
Well being specialists stated due to the way in which COVID-19 accumulates within the physique over time, second checks for vacationers would weed out extra infections.
Dr. Kapono Chong-Hanssen, who runs a Kauai group well being middle, stated the one check requirement “goes towards the medical proof.”
“We’re beginning to see these massive holes within the plan and I believe it is a matter of time earlier than we pay the worth,” he stated.
There have been greater than 380 travel-related infections in Hawaii for the reason that testing program was launched, in response to the state well being division.
The actual variety of infections among the many common inhabitants is believed to be far larger than what has been reported. Many asymptomatic individuals, who can nonetheless unfold the illness, don’t get examined.
The Related Press contributed to this report.