The situation with Hawaii’s Covid 19 Omicron cases, possible subsequent hospitalization surge, and our ongoing lack of medical resources is looking worse by the day. The last time we saw anything like this was in August when Governor Ige called for a pause in Hawaii travel until November 1. We can’t help but wonder if the same thing is about to happen again. In the meanwhile the governor is staying quiet at the moment.
HIPAM, which is responsible for Hawaii’s Covid modeling, said yesterday that Honolulu alone can expect up to 15,000 daily cases as soon as next week. And more concerning, they are predicting a dramatic raise up to 800 Covid hospitalizations and 120 ICU bed requirements.
Record Covid cases and questions today.
As of this morning, the state reported 1,511 new cases, which is the second-highest single-day Covid counts ever. And it comes of the heels of just weeks ago Hawaii recording sub-100 counts. The state is now seeing one of the country’s steepest Covid increases in the past two weeks.
So beyond what the governor may decide in terms of travel this time around, compared with his prior jumbled recommendations that visitors curtail Hawaii vacations in September and October, there remains a bigger question afoot. That is, how safe is it to travel to and be in Hawaii. Add to that all of the anxiety we are all now feeling and that you’ve started expressing in countless comments this week, in addition to the question of whether you’ll lose all your money if anything should go wrong.
How could things flip-flop more with the world-changing at an unprecedented pace and Omicron a huge part of what’s happening now?
Starting in April 2021, Hawaii travel took off with a vengeance after over a year of hiatus. With vaccinations and the feeling that Covid was behind us, Hawaii was back on the radar. We were told that it was safe to travel again, and boy did we ever take that literally.
Clearly, people remain crazy about Hawaii travel once. Bookings have been mostly through the roof for the airlines, vacation rentals, hotels, car rentals, and activities. And domestic arrivals in Hawaii have intermittently paced well above 2019. In fact, in the past week, Hawaii has seen in excess of 30,000 arrivals daily.
Hawaii travel boom meets the Omicron Variant.
After a fall that was on and off, with Governor Ige asking that visitors stop travel here from late August through October, travel has resumed, and we can attest to just how many visitors are here for the holidays.
Now, we have something big looming once again. Just what none of us wanted to hear at the holidays, and after what we’ve all just been through. But that’s the reality. And Governor Ige may still suggest another pause on Hawaii vacations, either with or without any teeth.
State officials continue to assert that the current problem is primarily associated with community spread and residents returning rather than visitors. But clearly allowing passengers to travel here with a vaccination exemption does not assure that Omicron is not entering the state no matter via residents or visitors. Yesterday, the state reported 74 confirmed cases of Omicron, while stating in essence, that number is just the tip of the iceberg.
Whether you are reading this here in Hawaii or on the mainland, cases have been surging everywhere. The small and remote medical system in Hawaii may or may not be able to handle it and could be largely overwhelmed. That remains the million-dollar question.
You’ve expressed anxiety previously in thousands of comments.
This situation is leaving Hawaii visitors and those of us who live here uneasy and frankly downright confused. Wait, aren’t vacations supposed to be for relaxation and stress reduction. And isn’t it safe to travel? What happened to all that? You’ve said it all here in your vociferous thoughts across many articles.
Different from 2020 and from Delta, but not great right now either.
This time, unlike last year when Hawaii went into a near virtual shutdown, or this past summer when the governor asked for a Hawaii travel pause, many of you are choosing not to cancel your Hawaii vacation plans. At the same time, we can’t help but wonder if cancellations haven’t started to mount up again this week.
Multiple causes for consternation.
This includes the possibility and even likelihood of again-changing rules in Hawaii and just the genuine fear of getting sick and about the limited healthcare system in Hawaii. And don’t rule out concerns about loss of money and vacation time should anything go wrong. It’s important to remember that now, getting your money back isn’t nearly as easy as it was last year, in most cases.
CDC still says that vaccinated Americans can travel safely, but we wonder if that too might change in the short term.
We can’t tell you what to do, and just how safe anything is in today’s world, including travel to Hawaii. But we sure want to know your thoughts.
If you have a Hawaii vacation planned in the next few months, what are you thinking?
Updated 12/23/21. Originally published in 8/21.