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  • Writer's pictureMele Rickards

Traveling During COVID-19

Recently I traveled to San Francisco, California and experienced traveling during Covid-19. Going to the airport for my recent trip to San Francisco, California I was nervous about the amount of people that may be crowded around on the airport and on the plane, but when I got there it seemed not many people were leaving the Kona airport at 11:15pm on a Friday.

I checked in through TSA, where the agents diligently enforced social distancing and proper mask wearing to--what seemed like--a large group of tourists returning home. The process to get through the airport was no different than normal. I was lucky enough to be able to get a whole row to myself and have the chance to get at least a little sleep during the 5 hour flight. It seemed reasonable (if not necessary) to me that passengers would be expected to keep their masks on for the duration of the flight--but with that announcement from the pilot that same group of tourists let out audible groans. Arrival in the San Francisco airport seemed like every other time I had been there but with many many less people and more closed off places.

One of the most interesting parts of my visit was seeing how everyone is adapting to COVID-19: restaurants were building outside dining areas with heaters and lights and in some parks there were even designated social distancing circles for people to sit. Another thing I was surprised by was everyone’s motivation to keep this social distancing and their masks on. From what I heard on the plane from that group I assumed that everyone on the mainland, especially in a busy city, would be packed together and disregard safety recommendations, but to me it seemed everyone had adapted to this new life and found ways to still enjoy themselves.

72 hours before I left I was required to get a COVID-19 test to ensure I tested negative before coming back to Hawai’i. These test results must be uploaded to your “Safe Travels Profile” in which you put your flight information. On the flight back I unfortunately did not have a whole row to myself but there seemed to be at least one seat separating those who were not traveling in the same party. Getting back to the Kona airport each passenger had to file and line up to show a QR code indicating negative test results in order to be able to leave the airport.

In accordance to school rules—and for the logical safety of my family and friends—I quarantined away from my family for five days before going for another COVID-19 test. I went to the Clinical Labs in Kona to receive my next test. You show up, register, then get a number sticker to put on your car. After a bit, a doctor came and confirmed my information and paperwork. Then, about 10 minutes later, I received a text saying that I was to go (and take my number) to the testing tent. The process was very simple and easy, and not painful at all. The only thing left to do was look at my Clinical Labs account and wait for my negative test results so I could go back to school in person again.

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