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Coronavirus in Hawaiʻi vs. the Mainland

By: Megan Lucas

13 April 2020

The pandemic that is shutting down the entire world is also taking the Hawaiian islands by storm, but as usual, things come here later than the mainland United States. According to the CoronaVirus is projected to “peak” in the U.S. on April 16, 2020. According to the numbers on the site, the entire U.S. will need 260,342 beds during the peak and will have a shortage of 84,671 beds. 

In Hawaiʻi the “peak” is projected for May 2, 2020. If this happens Hawai’i will need 1,141 beds and will have a shortage of 185 beds. Hawaiʻi normally doesn't get much national coverage on things and it will be interesting to see how this pans out, since the numbers show that the mainland U.S. will be way over the hump by the time the virus is bad on the island. 


What tourism generated for Hawaii in 2017, highlighted by record totals in the five major categories that convey the industry’s importance to residents and the state’s economy, is rewarding and should not be taken for granted,” said George D. Szigeti, president and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority. 


 “It’s especially heartening that tourism is supporting 204,000 jobs in Hawaiʻi, knowing how the industry’s success helps families, businesses and communities statewide.” Szigeti said.

More than half of the people who hold those 204,000 tourism jobs are out of work now.  It will be interesting to see what happens to the industry in the short and long term, and people who had trips planned for the spring and summer months will rebook or cancel. It is too early to see the effect of the economy for the entire state due to tourism, but it is certain to take a big hit.

There have been 847 deaths per day in the US and one confirmed death in Hawaiʻi thus far. It is scary because the numbers and projections for all the other states serve as warning tools and precautions for the Aloha State but is Hawai’i prepared?


The state relies on the tourism industry for much of the state’s economic income every year, and Hawaiʻi, specifically Oʻahu is a vacation hotspot for people all over the world. 


In one week, the tourism numbers dropped from 19,233 to 4,131 in just a one-week time span. As of March 24, the daily passenger totals are down 87.2%. A recent UH Mānoa TIM school graduate Kelly Sojka worked at The Aston Hotel in Waikiki Beach and was recently laid off due to the hotel not reaching capacity. “I don’t know what to do; maybe I’ll move to Alaska and fish because people still need to eat, right?” said Sojka, front desk agent. She said that the hotel is normally around 80-85% full this time of year and during her last week working there it was just under 10%. This is due to Gov. David Ige’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period for tourists and visitors alike.





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