Hawaii may not reach vaccination benchmark to lift travel restrictions before July 4

With a potential influx of visitors coming into Hawaii around July 4, Gov. David Ige said it is unlikely the state will lift COVID-19 testing and quarantine requirements by then. At least 60 percent of the state must be fully vaccinated before lifting the testing requirements. As of Wednesday, 57 percent of the state was vaccinated.

 

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Hawaii’s vaccination rate has slowed down, mirroring a national trend.  From April to June, the number of vaccine doses administered in Hawaii fell from about 32,000 per day to 3,100, according to data from the CDC. 

Restrictions on inter-county travel were lifted June 15, but state guidelines still require travelers who are not fully vaccinated in Hawai’i to either 1) receive a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their flight, or 2) quarantine for 10 days upon arrival. 

Lt. Gov. Josh Green urged Gov. Ige to lift travel restrictions by July 1 to avoid delays at the airport during the holiday. In an interview with Hawaii News Now, he said: 

“There’s going to be 120,000 plus travelers from the mainland over that one weekend and it will be mayhem if they all use their [vaccination] cards, thinking we’ve already changed the date, and it’s not happened.” 

Hawaii has already seen delays at the airport, with some travelers waiting up to an hour and half to pass through the Safe Travel program upon arrival. 

The Hawaii Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division (SLD) first announced the  detection of the COVID-19 Delta variant on June 14, and confirmed its community spread on June 22. In eight days, the Delta variant moved from making up six percent of U.S. cases to 10 percent. 

Dr. Sarah Kemble, acting State Epidemiologist, predicted the variant’s effect in the coming weeks: 

“Given what we know about the Delta variant and the cases already identified in Hawaii, we expect to detect additional cases in the coming weeks. Our best defense against the variants is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”