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Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami debuted the term after three people disregarded Hawaii's mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for travelers. Two more people have been arrested since.
If you visit Hawaii and violate the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine period for travelers, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami would like you to know that you’re a ‘covidiot.’
“These people are willing to risk the health and safety of others for their personal gain while others are sacrificing their jobs, sacrificing their freedom, sacrificing everything that we all want to do,” Kawakami said during a daily briefing on the coronavirus pandemic. “These folks are covidiots, and it’s not going to be tolerated.”
On March 26, Hawaii began enforcing a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for visitors and residents arriving to the state. State officials encouraged travelers to delay or cancel their trips and told those who still planned to come that they would be required to stay in their lodging for two weeks to monitor their symptoms. Visitors are permitted to leave the island before the end of the 14 days, but those who stay are prohibited from visiting any public place, including grocery stores, restaurants and hotel gyms and pools.
Violators of the policy face a misdemeanor fine of up to $5,000, a year in jail, or some combination of the two.
“With the majority of Hawaii’s Covid-19 cases linked to travel, it is critical that we further mitigate the spread of the virus by both residents and visitors who are coming from out-of-state,” Gov. David Ige said in a statement. “This plan was developed in collaboration with our county mayors and Hawaii’s business, community and visitor industry leaders.”
Since the rule went into effect, five people—two men from Florida, one from Olympia, Washington, a Hawaiian man and a woman from Alexandria, Virginia—have been arrested on Kauai for disregarding the mandatory quarantine. Three were apprehended before April 4, when Kawakami coined the term 'covidiots;' the final two were arrested April 10.
The Florida men and the Washington resident flew back to the mainland, with financial help from the Kauai Visitors Bureau, which Kawakami said was irritating but necessary to get them out of Hawaii.
“When you factor in the risk that they pose to our community, not having a place to quarantine, not having any accommodation, quite frankly, possibly being another homeless individual that we would be asked to take care of,” he told the Associated Press. “You know, it hurts.”
He plans to send them invoices, he added, and doesn’t think referring to them as ‘covidiots’ is too harsh.
“They’re blatantly putting our island at risk,” he said in a TV interview. “That’s enough. I don’t feel it’s too harsh. It is what it is.”