Hawaii mayor expresses doubts about bubble quarantine plan

HILO — The mayor of Hawaii County has expressed reservations about a quarantine concept being considered by other counties that would allow visitors to remain isolated in hotels or on the grounds of individual resorts rather than in their rooms.

Hawaii Mayor Harry Kim said the plan for the so-called “bubble” policy to loosen quarantine requirements is too early to adopt, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami and Maui Mayor Mike Victorino spoke with Democratic Gov. David Ige last week about allowing free movement within resorts or hotels during the 14-day quarantine period mandated for travelers arriving from outside the state.

Kim said his office and other Hawaii County agencies are working on a different proposal to eventually reopen the island, but declined to share details.

“The plan was, by their own admittance, only at a conceptual level of planning,” Kim said.

The Big Island on Friday instituted new health restrictions including limiting the number of people allowed to gather in groups indoors and outdoors to no more than 10.

“It’s not about finding the right number of people who can be in groups,” Kim said. “But the most common factor of transmissions is through social gatherings.”

Hilo has been the epicenter of new coronavirus cases on Hawaii island and additional restrictions are necessary before the spread becomes uncontrollable, Kim said.

Kim praised the University of Hawaii in Hilo for reducing the number of people on campus and largely moving classes online for the fall semester.

Kim previously requested that the university require out-of-state students to study remotely without traveling to the island.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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