State will use app to track travelers

  • Rona Suzuki

The state has launched a new web application to better track the movement of arrivals to the state during their mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The new service, called the Hawaii Safe Travels System, includes an electronic survey to be answered by all incoming travelers to the state, including details about the travelers’ itineraries and lodging information, said Rona Suzuki, director of the Hawaii Department of Taxation, at a press briefing Friday.

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Such information was previously obtained through print questionnaires, but Suzuki said the state encourages visitors to use the electronic service.

The app will then send automatic daily notifications to remind users that they must comply with Gov. David Ige’s emergency order mandating that all arriving travelers to Hawaii self-quarantine for 14 days to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or face criminal penalties.

However, Suzuki said the app will not continually track users’ locations to ensure their compliance. It will only obtain user location data when they submit daily reports on their whereabouts and health conditions.

Suzuki did not indicate whether that location data would be used to catch quarantine violators, but added that state workers will check in periodically with quarantined individuals to make sure they are complying with the governor’s order.

Despite the quarantine requirements, 663 people arrived at Hawaii airports on Thursday, including four visitors and 23 residents who arrived in Kailua-Kona.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state rose again Friday, climbing by 23 to 465. Three of those new cases were reported on Hawaii Island.

Two more Hawaii residents died of COVID-19 on Friday, said Bruce Anderson, director of the state Department of Hawaii, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to eight.

“The seventh death in the state was an older adult woman who was medically fragile and hospitalized. She was a Honolulu resident,” Anderson said. “The eighth death in the state was an elderly male hospitalized at Maui Memorial Medical Center.”

Anderson said he expects cases in the state will continue to rise, and deaths will increase correspondingly. DOH workers are “aggressively” conducting contact traces for the 19 confirmed cases associated with Maui Memorial Medical Center.

Meanwhile, the Department of Agriculture said it has received 333 requests for assistance under the COVID-19 Emergency Farmer Relief Fund, which can offer up to $250,000 to farmers and ranchers whose businesses have suffered during the pandemic.

Individual farming operations can receive up to $2,000, while agricultural associations can receive up to $10,000.

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“Right now the best way to help our farmers is to buy local,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairwoman of the state DOA.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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