Pictured is a flowchart explaining the pre-travel testing program to be implemented October 15th when Hawai’i reopens its borders for the first time since its lockdown in March. This reopening comes with the ongoing pressure from the tourism industry, a major part of the state’s economy, to reintroduce recreational travel. Allowing increased travel from the mainland United States and the rest of the world has faced opposition from those worried about the limited medical capacity of the islands and the probability of visitors spreading coronavirus through tight-knit local communities. This debate builds off the tensions between the Indigenous Hawaiians who have been historically dispossessed of land and resources by the tourism industry since the illegal annexation of the islands in the late 19th century and a settler-colonial state government. The reopening system charted here requires visitors acquiesce to a high degree of surveillance by the state government. All test results must be shared with local authorities and any quarantine must occur in a hotel room. While this system certainly seems to reduce potential contact between infected visitors and the island population, the infrastructure of implementation maintains risk—consider the step “minimize interactions/monitor” which follows path 1 and 2. Likely intentioned to reduce transmission in case of false negatives or falsified test results, these pathways still require individual responsibility to account for some degree of protection. The power dynamics between tourists and local communities, as it is exacerbated by COVID-19, is simplified into the iconic shaka and the phrase “no restrictions.”
AlohaTrace is a contact tracing initiative developed for the state of Hawai’i through a collaborative effort by the University of Hawai’i, the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center, the Pacific Urban Resilience Lab, and private funding. The project represents nongovernmental entities attempting to provide public health services which the government has failed to fill; particularly AlohaTrace attempts to compensate for inadequate testing across the state. On the website-based platform, users are asked to answer an anonymous, six question survey on their health and movements. Ideally, users are encouraged to enter data every day. The habitual reporting allows the platform to aggregate a large body of data which, in case of infection, can be used to reverse engineer the path of transmissions and alert those who may have been exposed. AlohaTrace presents a different model of contact tracing from the mobile applications upon which many other solutions are reliant. Rather than gathering location data, whether passively or journalistically, AlohaTrace and its web-based capability is fully reliant on user reporting. Thus, the information collected is fully user-generated. While the AlohaTrace approach attempts to provide more individual control over user data, the data map provides the potential shortcomings of this contact tracing infrastructure. The map only shows five data points, all of which are near metropolitan areas within the state. This could be the result of several factors: unreliable internet or computer access, lack of daily compliance in user reporting, and/or lack of knowledge about AlohaTrace’s existence and functionality.