On Friday, Hawaii reported 164 new Covid cases as the average number of cases has remained in the triple-digits again for the past week. And the day before that, on Thursday, 166 new cases were reported. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said the rising cases are likely the result of the July 4th celebration, and he hopes they might be going down this week. What could that mean to your Hawaii vacation and what’s happening at other popular destinations?
The Hawaii Health Department indicates that the new infections are mainly associated with unvaccinated people, including those who have traveled to the mainland and children in unvaccinated homes. Meanwhile, 59% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated.
On the mainland, LA County started cutting back on its reopening and now requires that masks be worn indoors without regard to vaccination status. It comes as vaccinations slow throughout the U.S., and the Delta variant drives cases up. This new policy started only one month after most Covid restrictions had been lifted in Los Angeles.
Las Vegas has a high case rate too, and the Kauai District Health Office just warned about travel there. They said that many Covid cases are occurring in residents who travel from Hawaii and that Las Vegas is a popular destination that poses significant risks.
The Delta variant is considered very contagious. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that it is “the greatest threat in the U.S. to our attempt to eliminate Covid-19.” CDC said that it is responsible for more than half of current US cases. That comes as case counts have increased by 15% or more in 49 states.
What could happen next in Hawaii?
BOH: If cases continue to rise at the current rate or get worse, we can definitely expect some restrictions to return. Then we will have to see what else officials here might consider.
As an example, Hawaii removed its outdoor mask requirement at the end of May. We don’t think that will change back, but it is possible.
Before then, Hawaii law required masks in all outdoor areas where social distancing was not possible, including beaches, parks, and hiking trails. As soon as the CDC removed its outdoor mask guidance, Hawaii seemed to be in conflict, which, together with the confusion it was causing, were largely the reasons it was subsequently eliminated.
The indoor mask mandate, however, has never been lifted in Hawaii. And it seems that isn’t going to be removed anytime soon given the recent rise in cases. Last Thursday, Governor Ige confirmed he won’t remove that mandate until at least 70% of the state’s population is fully vaccinated.
BOH: It isn’t clear when or if the state will cross the 70% vaccinated line. It had hoped to achieve 60% fully vaccinated by July 4, which obviously did not happen. Vaccinations have slowed to a trickle at this point.
Ige mentioned during his press conference that as of last week, the state had been in triple digits for three of the prior 5 days. In comparison, Hawaii averaged about 50 cases per day for months. According to the governor, the good news is that thus far, there has not been a noticeable increase in hospitalizations or deaths.
Could testing return again even for those vaccinated?
We don’t know if that’s a possibility or not. We are hearing of more places thinking of implementing that.
Belize for example requires both vaccination and testing. In France, vaccinated visitors from outside Europe and several “green” countries are also still required to have a negative PCR within 72 hours or a negative antigen test within 48 hours.
Are you concerned about changing rules when planning a Hawaii vacation?