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VOICES: Hawai‘i should return to testing all travelers

Hawai‘i’s leaders need to figure out what their goal is: limit coronavirus numbers or line the pockets of Pfizer and Moderna executives.

Coronavirus has exploded in Hawai‘i. We have experienced a massive jump in case numbers since Aug. 14. This is obvious to all, but what is less obvious is the cause. The current trend in media is to blame the unvaccinated.

However, the unvaccinated have been here since the beginning. Prior to February, everyone in America was unvaccinated against COVID, and Hawai‘i still had hardly any coronavirus. Relative to the rest of America, we had by far the lowest case numbers, with the extra-restrictive island of Kaua‘i perhaps the safest place on earth.

So what is the real reason COVID spread to every corner of the islands? Answer: Gov. David Ige’s July 8 declaration that vaccinated people no longer needed to be tested for COVID before coming to Hawai‘i.

Vaccinated people began arriving without tests, and within a month we had skyrocketing cases.

So why did Ige allow vaccinated travelers to skip the test? Ostensibly, it was to encourage more tourism to Hawai‘i. However, this decision was also part of a nationwide (worldwide, even) effort to give perks, lollipops and cookies to people who lined up to take the vaccine.

Hawai‘i was a prize. The islands were handed out as a reward for good behavior. Now, local citizens pay the price.

The problem is, the makers of the COVID vaccines never pretended it was 100% effective in preventing infection. Preliminary data showed that the vaccines were about 95% effective at stopping infection, which is about as effective as birth control pills are for preventing pregnancy.

As we all know, birth control is not 100% effective. Well, neither is the vaccine.

As it turns out, the COVID vaccine’s effectiveness wanes with time. While it used to be as sure as the pill, now it’s only about as reliable as contraceptive foam. As someone with a wonderful, amazing, beloved child conceived despite foam, I can tell you — that’s not particularly effective.

This means that, every day, we have thousands of people coming off airplanes assuming there is “no way” they could be carrying COVID, but who are carrying COVID. They bring it here and infect our population.

Our population which, by the way, has almost no natural immunity to COVID.

The vaccines may be effective at preventing serious complications, and that is wonderful. But they are not effective at stopping the spread. We know this. Look at the data from Israel. Just about everyone there is vaccinated, and yet COVID is raging out of control.

Now, politicians in O‘ahu will require vaccine passports (or a ridiculously recent COVID test) to enter restaurants and businesses. More perks for the vaccinated!

Meanwhile, they can continue spreading COVID everywhere they go? This is madness.

Is the goal to reward vaccination or stop the spread?

If the goal is to stop the spread, then they should return to testing all people who arrive on the islands. If their goal is to allow the vaccinated liberties that are not allowed to the unvaccinated, I cannot support their actions.

Politicians should serve the people of Hawai‘i, not pharmaceutical companies. We were safest when people got tested to come here. Now? Our lives are being put at risk in order to sell the vaccine.

It’s time to stop. Yes, Hawai‘i needs tourism. But just about every country in the world now requires COVID testing to enter. Travelers are accustomed to getting tested before boarding a plane. There’s no reason to give gold stars and special privileges to the vaccinated. They could still be carrying COVID. Even Fauci says so.

So please, Hawai‘i, let’s stop blaming one another for our current predicament. Let’s deal with the root of the problem instead: untested travelers.

Test them. Then welcome them.

It’s best for all.


Jennifer Cornforth is a resident of Kilauea.
Source: The Garden Island

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