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Hawaiʻi visitors get COVID on vacation and have to quarantine before going home

AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File

With COVID cases rising in the islands, some visitors testing positive during their trips find themselves required to quarantine. That happened to more than a couple of international travelers this week.

Jessica Lani Rich of the Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaiʻi, or VASH, said every day this week a visitor has called for help after testing positive for COVID just before getting on a plane home. The nonprofit usually assists tourists with things like car break-ins, theft, and medical emergencies.

"They were here on vacation, they were taking a test in order to return to their home country, you know, 72 hours before returning home. And lo and behold, they tested positive for COVID," she said.

Among the cases in visitors, one is from Germany, two are from France, one is from Japan, and two are from the United States, according to Rich.

"They have been able to find hotel accommodations, and the few that did not have the funds had to contact relatives and friends back home who are helping them to pay for their hotel rooms for the next 10 days," Rich told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

While VASH does not pay for hotel rooms, it can assist with booking — and moral support during the holidays.

Rich said VASH has even received a call from a hospital asking for help with a COVID-positive visitor in their care.

HPR has reached out to several tourism organizations and the state Department of Health for more information or guidance about the issue. They all said they are looking into it.

The Safe Travels program under the Department of Transportation says its authority only covers arriving passengers — not departures.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 23, 2021. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
Sophia McCullough is a digital news producer. Contact her at
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