U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard issued a statement this morning urging Gov. David Ige and the state’s four mayors to extend the mandatory 14-day quarantine in effect for trans-Pacific travelers.
The quarantine currently is scheduled to be lifted on Aug. 1, but with caveats including voluntary pre-tests for travelers.
“I strongly urge the governor and mayors of Hawaii counties to continue the 14-day quarantine for trans-Pacific travelers because of the surge of COVID-19 infections occurring across the country, with many states experiencing a higher number of positive COVID-19 cases now than at any point during this pandemic,” Gabbard said in the statement.
“In addition, we are facing an extreme shortage in testing reagents, personal protective equipment, and medical supplies. We must put the health and lives of the people of Hawaii first and take necessary actions to contain and defeat this virus in our state,” she said. “The travel quarantine must remain in place for the time being as we focus on containing and defeating the virus, massively increasing our testing and tracing capacity, and securing our medical supply chains. These steps are essential to get to a place where the people of Hawaii can be confident that travelers coming to our state will not bring greater risk and COVID-19 infections with them.”
Since the 14-day quarantine began, cases linked to travel or associated contact dropped precipitously and remained flat, Gabbard pointed out in a news release.
She also noted that during March, 301 new COVID-19 cases in the state of Hawaii were directly or indirectly attributed to travel. After instituting the 14-day quarantine for travelers, the numbers of new cases directly and indirectly attributed to travel had decreased to 27 in April and decreased even further to 10 in the month of May.
Given current testing capacity, as well as increasing case counts on the mainland, there is cause for concern that we currently do not have the resources to lift the quarantine and continue to stop the spread of infections, according to Gabbard’s release.