Is Hawaii prepared for an island outbreak?

Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii Josh Green joins Trace Gallagher to discuss how Hawaii is dealing with coronavirus outbreak.

Travelers must be patient before visiting paradise, as Hawaii has delayed reopening tourism for out-of-state visitors until Sept. 1, while coronavirus cases rise in both the mainland and the Aloha State.

During a Monday news conference, Gov. David Ige announced that he’s waiting another month to waive a 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state visitors who test negative for COVID-19. Ige cited an increasing number of local cases, “uncontrolled” outbreaks in several U.S. mainland states and a shortage of testing supplies, the Associated Press reports.

Officials also anticipate case numbers to surge when Hawaiian public schools reopen in early August.

Beach chairs under a yellow umbrella in Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii. 
(Andrew Woodley/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

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The 14-day quarantine requirement was initially slated to take effect on Aug. 1.

“This was an extremely difficult decision to make. This delay will further hurt our economy, but as I’ve always said – we will make decisions based on the best available science and facts prioritizing the health and safety of Hawai‘i residents,” Ige said in a statement. “Our county mayors and I agree, this delay is essential to protect our community.”

In this file photo, Hawaii Gov. David Ige speaks to reporters at the state Department of Health’s laboratory in Pearl City, Hawaii. Ige said Monday, July 13, 2020, he will wait another month to waive a 14-day quarantine requirement for out-of-state travelers who test negative for COVID-19, citing increasing virus cases in Hawaii, "uncontrolled" outbreaks in several U.S. mainland states and a shortage of testing supplies.
(AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy, File)

Acknowledging that the reopening delay “increases the burden on businesses,” especially small businesses, the governor stressed that protecting the health and safety of the community remains paramount amid the ongoing outbreak.

According to the Associated Press, the quarantine requirement virtually closed tourism to Hawaii since the policy took effect in late March. The unemployment rate is 22.6 percent, the nation’s second-highest.

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When the testing program begins next month, tourists arriving in Hawaii from out of state can be exempt from the 14-day quarantine rule if they test negative for COVID-19 – with a valid nucleic acid amplification test from a CLIA-certified lab – no more than 72 hours before travel, prior to arrival.

Travelers must show proof of the negative test at the airport – though no commercial testing will be held at Hawaiian air hubs, the Hawaii Tourism Authority reports.

If the visitor cannot provide proof of the negative test, they must remain in quarantine until their results are received. What's more, out-of-state travelers of all ages are subject to the pre-test rule, including children.

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As of Tuesday morning, the Hawaii State Department of Health reports that there have been 1,243 cases of COVID-19 in the Aloha State – one of the lowest infection rates in the U.S. The viral disease has claimed the lives of 22 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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