Saturday, August 28, 2021

Happy Hawaiian Holiday - day "minus 8" - to test or not to test?

 

Up to July, the state of Hawaii required pre-arrival COVID tests for all incoming trans-Pacific travelers, i.e., those not traveling between islands. Since July, travelers vaccinated in the US are exempt from quarantining after arrival without a test, assuming they follow the state registration instructions. Now in late August, the delta variant surge is upon us, and Hawaiian Governor Ige is discouraging tourists. But, he is not banning tourists and the CDC does not consider domestic travel to be a high risk for vaccinated citizens.

I stated in my previous blog entry the virus is not a Hawaiian issue, that it is global and it doesn't really matter if I am in Hawaii or at home. However, the act of traveling, especially in an enclosed plane, does add risk to virus spread. If I insist on traveling, should I at least get tested?
  • At this time so close to our arrival in Hawaii, it is possible the governor could reinstitute testing rules or mandatory quarantines. However, the lieutenant governor stated recently that any onerous changes would be announced with at least two weeks' advance notice. We'll be well into our trip two weeks from now. Still, a COVID test is not itself onerous and we have considered testing "just in case" the rules change at the last minute.
  • Based on Hawaii's rules for non-vaccinated travelers, the testing option for us would be a rapid ID NOW test at a Walgreen's drug store. The test has to be administered within 72 hours of departure, and the PCR tests take too long to get the results. There are several stores offering the drive-through rapid tests. Well, it turns out getting an appointment is difficult. Appointments become available early in the morning about 2 days in advance (every day is different), and they are all booked at all stores by dinnertime. Appointments are available every day, but only between around 9:30 and 4:30. We would need to be tested on a Thursday or Friday and upload the results before the Sunday departure. Given all the difficulty, should we take up testing slots required for others when our tests would not be required?
  • I am not COVID positive. No, I don't have a test to prove it, but I'm not. The governor's discouragement is related to pressure on the Hawaiian healthcare system caused by community spread between residents. We'll use the Hawaiian exposure notification phone app. Here at home, my weekly activity outside the house is a trip to the grocery store and an outdoor church service. I am not the guy the governor is worried about, but he's under pressure to take action.
  • A false positive test (that is not even required for me) would end my vacation before it starts. The odds of a false positive appear to be pretty small, and testing has improved throughout the pandemic, but there's always a chance.
  • Will I feel guilty about traveling now? I feel guilty about a lot of things. I run the air conditioner, drive a gas-powered car, eat meat, benefit from a military but never served, benefit from white privilege, and a bazillion other things. Guilt over a safe Hawaii trip is not at the top of the list.
  • I don't make the rules. The rules are a complicated result of health, economic and political considerations. We are where we are and I will follow the rules.
As far as I can tell, our providers are waiting for us. The hotels and B&B, dinners and activities support Hawaiians who won't get COVID from me. There are a few non-service-industry workers who appear to despise all tourists all the time, but that's nothing new. Testing is not ideal, and we probably won't.

4 comments:

  1. You raise an interesting question. It's easy to talk yourself out of getting tested, if going on vacation is more important than protecting other people from getting sick.

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  2. Testing is not required, and I don't make the rules. Vacationing isn't the problem, I will always be "somewhere". Should I avoid the grocery store at home, too? When was the last time YOU were tested?

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    Replies
    1. This isn't about me. I'm just pointing out that you wrote an entire blog post about the decision not to get tested. But your post was very one sided, so it seemed more like an attempt to rationalize not jeopardizing your trip.

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  3. But I feel like you're suggesting I SHOULD get tested, and I am saying the authorities don't require testing, and no one around my home gets tested as a regular thing, just to go to the store. The virus is as prevalent at home as it is in Hawaii. If Hawaii needs me to get tested, they will let me know and the government will lean on the providers to make it easier.

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