This State Is "Risky" to Visit Right Now, Governor Warns
Tourists should consider avoiding travel here during the Delta surge.
The Delta variant put a pin in the country's attempt to end the COVID pandemic this summer, causing cases, virus-related hospitalizations, and deaths to spike once more. This more infectious iteration of the virus hit the Southern states hard in July, but its effects have been felt across the U.S.—even outside of the mainland. In fact, the Delta surge in Hawaii is getting so bad that its governor is urging non-essential visitors not to come.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige is busy trying to contain the COVID situation in his state as the Delta variant spreads far and wide. The situation is so dire that he's now asking tourists to avoid visiting the islands through at least the end of October. "It is a risky time to be traveling right now," Ige said at a press conference Aug. 24. "It is not the time to visit the islands."
According to The New York Times, Hawaii experienced nearly 700 new cases on Aug. 23, and the average number of cases in the state has shot up by nearly 36 percent in the last two weeks. Hospitalizations, on the other hand, have increased even more. There were over 350 people hospitalized on the islands for COVID on Aug. 23, which reflects a 78 percent increase in hospitalizations over the past 14 days.
"We are seeing more COVID patients in our hospitals and the ICUs are filling up," Ige noted. It appears that the number of hospitalizations in Hawaii is now higher than it ever has been during the pandemic.
The governor is avoiding enacting any strict mandates prohibiting travelers from visiting the islands right now, like the mandatory quarantine Hawaii required earlier in the pandemic. But even before this mandate, Ige said he was able to get a "60 percent reduction in the traffic to Hawaii" last year just by encouraging visitors to postpone travel, which appears to be what he is trying to do again.
While he is not directly prohibiting travelers to Hawaii, Ige said he is working with airlines, hotels, and other tourism-related businesses to "do what they [can]" to curb tourism to the state.
According to the governor, restaurant and bar capacity in Hawaii has been restricted to 50 percent, and there is limited access to rental cars. In Honolulu, Mayor Rick Blangiardi also just enacted a new order restricting indoor gatherings to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25.
"The visitors who choose to come to the island will not have the kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit Hawaii," Ige warned.