About 60000 travelers arrive in Hawaii in first week of program requiring tests before flights

HONOLULU – Hawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program. That’s a state effort …

A file image shows Waikiki Beach on Oahu Island, Hawaii. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

HONOLULUHawaii had about 60,000 travelers arrive in the islands in the first week of its pre-travel coronavirus testing program.

That’s a state effort to get the tourism-based economy moving again. Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Thursday that nearly 60,000 returning residents, military members, essential workers, tourists and others had been tested since Oct. 15.

The vast majority tested negative and were allowed to skip the previously required two weeks of quarantine.

Other travelers came to Hawaii without being tested. Nearly 7,300 people were ordered to quarantine upon arrival.

Tourism gates have reopened

As Hawaii’s economic engine sputters back to life, we are once again … Maui County is offering a free post-arrival COVID-19 test to visitors as part of …

here they are.

As Hawaii’s economic engine sputters back to life, we are once again welcoming visitors to our beaches, businesses and roadways. Maui’s October arrival numbers are a small fraction of pre-COVID-19 totals, but screening lines at Kahului Airport confirm that even during a global pandemic there is demand to vacation here.

Over the decades, Maui’s reputation as a world-class travel destination has helped it attract world-class travelers. These are not only people willing to pay extra for outstanding service and quality, but also guests who embrace the aloha spirit and island culture. Not every tourist gets it, but enough do to make it fun for the people who check them in to their rooms, serve them meals and take them on adventures.

By the old standards, a good guest was appreciative and polite. They understood Maui is a special place and all of us are lucky to be here. Many of those guests also thought nothing about eating out three times a day, going shopping and treating their party of six to multiple activities and rounds of golf while they were here. They provided the fuel that kept Hawaii running.

In the COVID era, new criteria have been added. Gold-standard visitors don’t spread coronavirus. They obey health protocols and do not put our kupuna or essential workers at risk.

Maui County is offering a free post-arrival COVID-19 test to visitors as part of its “Arrive Healthy, Stay Healthy, Return Home Healthy” program. The incentive of a free Kama’aina First Mahalo Card has not translated into a high percentage of takers.

Though they know it is the responsible thing to do, many guests must ask themselves, why take a test if it is not required? Their best possible outcome is to receive another negative test and a few discounts. On the opposite side, if it comes back positive, their special trip is derailed and they’re on the hook for quarantine.

At least the state and counties will have time to gauge the effectiveness of pre-travel testing and visitor compliance to health protocols. The tourism gates have been opened, but that has not yet translated into packed hotels and beaches. It is going to take time to ramp up as Hawaii and the rest of the world struggle to subdue the pandemic.

It will be interesting to see what sort of visitors we welcome during this ramping up phase. Will it be our old friends, the big spenders? Or will we host a higher percentage of bargain travelers who head straight to Costco after landing and make minimal contributions to the local economy?

Either way, we’ll greet them with aloha, provide positive examples and hope for the best.

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Unanswered questions surround tourist testing

… people arrived in Hawaii on Oct. 15. A colossal 14 percent of them (about 1,400 people) arrived here without even bothering to take a COVID-19 test …

How many people on their flights did these untested people infect before landing? Where are these 1,400 being quarantined? Who is monitoring them and keeping them out of the general population?

With so many visitors here now and more coming each day, how will it be possible to know who is tested and who is not?

Once word gets out about how easy it is to come here without a test, why would anyone bother to go to the trouble and expense of getting one? This is a huge fail and a big danger to the residents of Hawaii.

Can’t the State of Hawaii force all the cities/states where flights originate to prevent passengers from boarding planes to Hawaii without a negative COVID-19 test?

Somehow, we have mandated agricultural inspection. It seems human lives should be at least as important as keeping bugs from going to the Mainland!

Dorothy Pyle


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On the Town: Online workshops provide opportunity to get creative

Lillie-Beth Brinkman. This week, online workshops in photography, photo editing and design have inspired me to get creative, thanks to the free Adobe …
Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

This week, online workshops in photography, photo editing and design have inspired me to get creative, thanks to the free Adobe Max virtual conference for users of the company’s design software like Photoshop and Illustrator. I have loved the tips and tricks.

Locally and online, you can learn cool new things, too. Even though COVID-19 has derailed many in-person events, several organizations are sharing their wisdom with online workshops that also look like fun, whether you’re into art, acting or something else. I’ll share others as I learn about them, but here are two that people can jump into right away:

• On Friday nights, Oklahoma Contemporary is offering art workshops for ages 21 and older that you can do with a good internet connection and a Zoom-compatible device. No art skills required. In most of the cases, they’ll provide you with the kit of supplies with your registration fee, but for one of them, the “Drink & Draw” course, you can gather supplies found around your house. In Friday’s workshop from 7 to 9 p.m., you’ll learn contemporary hand lettering from artist and illustrator Aditi Panchal. Register for $35 by noon Friday, and pick up the materials at Oklahoma Contemporary in downtown Oklahoma City. See the full schedule and register at okcontemp.org, email studioschool@okcontemp.org or call 405-493-9087.

• And starting Monday, Oklahoma Shakespeare is launching its Master Class Mondays series for high school students, teachers and home-schooling parents. Sponsored by a grant Allied Arts, this free series of eight weekly classes features working artists from across the nation and will be held online from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Mondays from Oct. 26 to Dec. 14. The first session includes filmmaker, director and writer Ryan Daniel Dobson and producer/director Avril Z. Speaks, both from Los Angeles.

For those interested in a scholarly deep dive into some of playwright William Shakespeare’s works, don’t miss the free, online Undiscovered Country series that begins at 7 p.m. on Oct. 29 with a look at “Richard II.”

Register for both online at okshakes.org.

Short takes

• Head to Oklahoma City’s Midtown District north of downtown Friday and Saturday for its annual Midtown Walkabout with seasonal promotions and activities. Pop-up programming like pumpkin carving, art demonstrations and giveaways will go along with the specials that restaurants and retailers are offering. For a schedule, go to downtownokc.com/midtown-walkabout.

• Cliff Hudson, longtime CEO and chairman of the board at Sonic: America’s Drive-In, will join Bob Blackburn on stage to discuss his new book and memoir, Master of None, at the Oklahoma History Center at noon Friday. Attend this event either in person or virtually; admission is free. See more at okhistory.org/conversation or call 405-522-5192 for information.

Have an item of note? Email lillie.beth@yahoo.com.

Rhode Island to Launch Virtual Career Center powered by Google Cloud as part of “Back to Work …

This agreement brings together Rhode Island government, technology leaders, and top research scientists to launch Rhode Island’s economic … innovate with AI / ML and cloud technology to help Rhode Islanders get back to work.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The State of Rhode Island and Google Cloud today announced they are working together on an initiative that will dramatically expand access to key career resources across the state. The initiative was developed as part of Governor Gina M. Raimondo’s “Back to Work RI” initiative. The Virtual Career Center will connect Rhode Islanders to career services on an innovative, data-driven, and easy to navigate online platform developed on Google Cloud and in partnership with the tech-for-social-impact nonprofit Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL).

This agreement brings together Rhode Island government, technology leaders, and top research scientists to launch Rhode Island’s economic recovery, and harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to connect the state’s workforce with pathways to new careers. Rhode Island will become the first state in the country to innovate with AI / ML and cloud technology to help Rhode Islanders get back to work.

“We’re incredibly grateful for Google Cloud’s investment in Rhode Island. Our Virtual Career Center is only possible thanks to their technology and resources,” said Governor Raimondo. “Through this public-private partnership with Google Cloud and RIPL, Rhode Island is leading the way in using technology to connect our workforce with pathways to great jobs. We won’t rest until all Rhode Islanders are back on their feet.”

Since March, hundreds of thousands of Rhode Islanders have filed for unemployment. Many of those impacted were already some of the state’s most vulnerable workers and families. Now, more than ever, Rhode Island needs to rapidly and successfully connect workers with new jobs and offer effective training programs that help both workers and employees succeed.

The Virtual Career Center will give Rhode Islanders remote access to an array of resources to support their job searches. As part of the Virtual Career Center, RIPL and Rhode Island are developing a first-of-its-kind Career Matching Bot, which will innovatively use data to connect Rhode Island workers with new and successful career paths and proven, effective reskilling opportunities.

Multi-Sector Relationship

Governor Raimondo, the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT), Google Cloud, and RIPL have formed a unique multi-sector coalition to rapidly support workers in crisis and virtually connect them with new skills training and in-demand careers.

“We want to congratulate Rhode Island on being the first state in the U.S. to use AI and ML to deploy a job search platform on this level,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. “The state is truly innovative and forward-looking in its approach to citizen services, and we are honored to help provide technology that powers such a tremendous effort.”

Rhode Island’s Virtual Career Center will be powered by a range of Google Cloud technologies–such as BigQuery, Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage, Cloud Talent API, and Vision API– in partnership with MavenWave, who built the application interface. Google Workspace, including Google Meet, will allow job seekers to schedule video meetings with career coaches, job recruiters and potential employers. Additionally, the Google Job Search API is an AI-powered job discovery tool, powered by Google Cloud, that will allow jobseekers to explore career opportunities best suited to their skills and interests.

In collaboration with Rhode Island, RIPL scientists are developing a Career Matching ML algorithm, delivered through an AI-powered Chatbot, a first-of-its-kind tool which will set Rhode Islanders quickly on the path to successful and rewarding new jobs and careers. The program will use data from Rhode Island’s Research Data Lake to identify which careers and job openings each person will likely find rewarding, and deliver personalized recommendations directly to jobseekers and to employers. It will make finding great-match careers easier for workers and employers, and kickstart lasting economic growth in Rhode Island. The research and development for the Career Matching Bot is funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

Starting today, Rhode Islanders can access a Back to Work landing page and a preliminary chatbot named Skipper, to get answers to questions, navigate career resources and access job openings, training opportunities and additional support services. The Virtual Career Center and Career Matching Bot will launch in late November, with additional services available over the coming months.

About Back to Work RI

Back to Work RI is a public-private partnership designed to train, support, and hire thousands of Rhode Islanders who have been displaced by COVID-19. Launched by Governor Raimondo in July 2020, this is the first and most innovative workforce development program of its kind in the country. Back to Work RI partners directly with employers to ensure Rhode Islanders get the skills they need to secure well-paying jobs in growing industries. While using proven best practices, Rhode Island is also making serious innovations, like deploying Artificial Intelligence to connect Rhode Island jobseekers with pathways to careers.

About Google Cloud

Google Cloud provides organizations with leading infrastructure, platform capabilities, and industry solutions. We deliver enterprise-grade cloud solutions that leverage Google’s cutting-edge technology to help companies operate more efficiently and adapt to changing needs, giving customers a foundation for the future. Customers in more than 150 countries turn to Google Cloud as their trusted partner to solve their most critical business problems.

About RIPL

Research Improving People’s Lives (RIPL) is a nonprofit tech-for-social-impact organization that works with governments to help them use data, science, and technology to improve policy and lives. We work with faculty research affiliates from top research universities across the country to provide powerful, scientific-grade insights at the speed of policy directly to policymakers so that they can positively impact lives, solve pressing social challenges, and build their own capacity to innovate and measure success going forward.

SOURCE Google Cloud