- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 26, 2020

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii has fallen behind schedule in launching a new version of an app to collect traveler information needed to enforce coronavirus public safety measures.

The Hawaii Safe Travels app is aimed at allowing law enforcement and other officials to check on visitors who required to quarantine for 14 days after arriving in the state, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

The scheduled completion date was Aug. 17 for Google and partner firm SpringML, but state officials said an initial release phase will be extended to the end of August.

Travelers would complete an online form allowing state personnel at airports to review passenger information for clearance or secondary screening. The information would then be available for other officials to check on quarantined travelers.

The original application, developed by California software company Esri, was operational for interisland travel in July. But it was scrapped when state officials were not satisfied the app could be scaled up for transpacific travel.

The state Office of Enterprise Technology Services hired Google and SpringML last month to develop a new version at an initial cost of $638,000 to be paid for with federal coronavirus recovery funds.

The new system could be ready to use as part of a transpacific pre-arrivals testing program, which is not expected to start until at least Oct. 1.

The delayed release left Hawaii counties without a statewide application for the resumption of a partial interisland quarantine, which began Aug. 11 and is set to run through Aug. 31 for nonexempt travelers to Kauai, Hawaii, Maui and Kalawao counties.

Mayor Harry Kim said Hawaii County needed an active system when the interisland quarantine resumed and the Esri system was restored on Aug. 12.

“Without a data collection system, line agents like the police weren’t getting the information until two or three days later,” Kim said.

Hawaii County plans to use the Esri app until the Google system is ready.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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