Please help. We all need to act now. Science and medicine have confirmed that travel spreads the virus. In our state, we have seen this for ourselves. Even with just inter-island quarantine requirements lifted, COVID-19 increased throughout the state.
On Oct. 15, the state plans to reopen trans-Pacific and inter-island travel. The problem, only some passengers will have a pre-flight negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travel. How can that be safe for Hawai‘i? For those who test, the current plan is no quarantine required. Not only can those passengers be exposed between their test and their flight, but they will be flying for five hours or more in a confined space with passengers who opt not to test but choose to quarantine after their arrival.
After you read the following, send an email to each of the addressees below. Please insist that our state officials revise this shortsighted and clearly-flawed plan. Share and circulate this email with friends and family. The state needs to hear from as many as possible.
If the plan is revised to require those who pretest to enter a shortened quarantine, with a second test seven days after they were last tested, to assure they haven’t picked it up, releasing into the economy at that point would keep Hawai‘i and its residents much safer. It is up to us, everyone needs to say something now. The pressure to restore the economy is real and significant. We do need to take steps to help our economy but let’s at least do it responsibly. Recently, the state’s current flawed plan was featured on the news. I was called by a news reporter and asked for comment:
“Because some may opt out of the testing and choose to quarantine, there’s concern about flights arriving with a mixture of tested and untested passengers.”
“The airlines, I think, would sell a lot more seats if they could tell people you could ride on this plane and everybody on the plane is negative for COVID including the crew, and how many more seats would they sell and how much better would that be for the state,” said Bridget Hammerquist of Kauai.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green says the chances of contracting COVID-19 on any flight are very low, especially if everyone wears a mask.
“It should be very safe. It’s not ever going to be 100% with the virus in society, but we will have the safest flights in the world because we will have this extra layer of security, and that’s a good thing,” said Green. Earlier this month, Green said just the opposite:
“He said he strongly believes he was exposed during a car ride, because masks ‘can’t be perfect.’
‘I wore a mask in the car, on the plane, when I was walking to the ER, and in the ER, everywhere. But we were in the car for over an hour, sipping coffee and breathing the same air inside of a car just a couple of feet away from each other,’ he said of his colleague.”
And the plane flight will be different? If our lieutenant governor can contract COVID-19 while wearing a mask, riding in a car, some of the pre-flight-tested passengers will just as likely pick up COVID-19 from any of the untested passengers they fly with during that five or more hours in the air. Please email each of the following and beg them to do everything they can to change the current plan to reopen the state. Use any of this email or your own words, but individual messages are needed now:
• Governor David Y. Ige: Governor.Ige@hawaii.gov;
• Green: email@example.com;
• Mayor Derek Kawakami: firstname.lastname@example.org;
• Maui Mayor Mike Victorino: Mayors.Office@co.maui.hi.us;
• Hawai‘i Mayor Harry Kim: Harry.Kim@hawaiicounty.gov;
• Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell: Mayor@honolulu.gov.
If you’d like to hear our lieutenant governor with an even stronger statement on why reopening is certain to bring more cases of COVID-19, see and hear him on Mel Rapozo’s YouTube video, Rapozo’s COVID-19 Discussion with Lt. Gov. Josh Green, August 12, 2020
Bridget Hammerquist is a resident of Koloa.