September traditionally marks the start of Hawaii’s “shoulder” season, when the number of visitors dips as mainland and local families send their children back to school. It’s a time of warm weather, low airfares and tourist-enticing events such as the Aloha Festivals, set to begin its 75th anniversary with a Royal Court investiture in Waikiki on Sept. 18. 

But with coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surging to record levels across the state, many in the islands are questioning the ethics of traveling there now. While Gov. David Ige has simply asked visitors and residents to postpone nonessential travel, others point to the decisive action of a real-life royal, Queen Liliuokalani.
  
This Labor Day weekend would normally have seen hundreds of domestic and international competitors, and thousands of supporters and spectators in Kailua-Kona for the world’s largest outrigger canoe competition, the Queen Liliuokalani Canoe Race, founded in 1972. But in the spirit of the race’s namesake, whose birthday is Sept. 2, the organizers first limited the event to paddlers from Hawaii Island, and then recently canceled it altogether.

“Queen Liliuokalani witnessed many illnesses and several pandemics in her time and always put her people first, ensuring their resiliency and survival,” according to the Aug. 11. statement from Kai Opua Canoe Club, which specifically recalled the steps the monarch took to limit the spread of smallpox while she was serving as regent in 1881. 

As regent, Liliuokalani “summoned her cabinet and made the decision to shut down Oahu, stopping inter-island travel, prohibiting vessels from taking on any passengers, and quarantining the sick. These regulations were so strictly enforced that when they were raised, no cases outside of the area where the sickness first appeared were reported,” the statement noted.

Barbara Koenig, a medical anthropologist and registered nurse who recently retired as a professor and director of the UCSF Bioethics Program, notes that the ethics of travel depend on “who is making the decision and about what.”


For example, the government has to balance the health benefits of a total lockdown with the impact on a tourism-dependent economy. “If no one can eat and no one can work, then it doesn’t matter if you close down the economy,” she noted. 

“The other groups of decision makers are all those people who are making individual choices to fly to particular areas,” Koenig said. “They should definitely not go to an area with no hospital or ICU beds, because if they get sick, they’re going to burden the system further.”

Koenig said she had considered traveling to Hawaii this summer, because “I’d been in the San Francisco fog all summer, and it’s been hard not seeing the sun or having warmth. … But when everyone pointed out to me Hawaii is a place you shouldn’t go right now, I took it off my list.”

On the other hand, some travel may be justified despite the risk to the health system, Koenig said, such as that of a friend who lives in Northern California but flies

(CNN) — The European Union recommended on Monday that Americans should be banned from nonessential travel to its member states after a rise in Covid-19 cases in the United States.

Countries within the 27-nation bloc, which includes France, Italy and Germany, have been advised to reinstate coronavirus-related restrictions and halt the arrival of tourists from the US and five other countries.

The guidance, which also now applies to Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and the Republic of North Macedonia, is non-binding for EU member states. That means it remains up to each individual EU country to decide whether to allow “nonessential travel to the EU for fully vaccinated travelers.”

Europe had begun opening up to US travelers in May with destinations dependent on tourism dollars from across the Atlantic eager to recoup heavy losses incurred during successive lockdowns.

The European Council, the EU’s governing body, recommended in June that the bloc lift restrictions on nonessential travel from 14 countries, including the United States.

However, Covid-19 cases in the US have surged in recent weeks, as the highly infectious Delta variant spreads among unvaccinated Americans. Covid-19 cases among children are also hitting levels not seen since winter.

“What is going on now is both entirely predictable, but entirely preventable. And you know we know we have the wherewithal with vaccines to turn this around,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious diseases expert. “We could turn this around and we could do it efficiently and quickly if we just get those people vaccinated.”

Nationally, 52.1% of the population was fully vaccinated as of Saturday, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Florida on Saturday had the highest Covid-19 hospitalization rate in the country, with 75 patients per 100,000 residents in hospitals with the virus, according to data from federal health officials and Johns Hopkins University. It also reached yet another pandemic high of Covid-19 cases Friday, reporting 690.5 new cases per 100,000 people each day from August 20 to August 26, state data showed.

Fewer than 50% of people in South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas are fully vaccinated. Studies have shown that full vaccination is necessary for optimal protection against the Delta variant.

Several hospitals in those four states — Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Louisiana — are struggling with oxygen scarcity. Some are at risk of having to use their reserve supply or risk running out of oxygen imminently, according to state health officials and hospital consultants.

CNN’s Saskya Vandoorne and Barry Neild contributed to this story.

The number of job openings in the U.S. economy jumped to more than 10 million in June, the highest on record, as the U.S. labor market continues a choppy recovery from last year’s economic shutdowns, the Labor Department said Monday.

There were 10.1 million open jobs on the final day of June, the report said, up from 9.2 million in May. Economist polled by Dow Jones were expecting 9.1 million openings. The jump came as the quits rate increased while the layoffs and discharges rate was unchanged, reflecting increased bargaining power and employment options for workers.

By industry, leisure and hospitality show one of the highest level of job openings at more than 1.6 million. Health care and social assistance has 1.5 million openings.

A ‘We’re Hiring!’ sign is posted at a Starbucks on August 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

“Labor demand keeps getting stronger. This is the third straight month of record-breaking job openings,” Indeed Hiring Lab director of research Nick Bunker said in a note. “The quits rate is also close to its all-time high, which was set just two months ago in April. This wave of demand will eventually recede, but job seekers should ride it until then.”

Despite the unemployment rate remaining above 5% and the U.S. economy being millions of jobs short of pre-pandemic levels, many businesses have reported difficulty finding workers. Nominal wage gains, especially among non-management employees, also points to a tighter labor market.

The job openings survey was conducted before the July jobs report released last week which showed the economy adding 954,000 jobs. Hiring has accelerated during the summer after some disappointing results earlier in the year.

The Labor Department said in Friday’s jobs report there were 8.7 million Americans looking for work, meaning there were more open jobs than potential workers. To be sure, improving economies and tight labor markets can bring workers off of the sidelines and back into the labor force.

The high level of job openings comes even as some states have ended the extra unemployment benefits that were created during the pandemic in an effort to motivate Americans to return to work. The extra benefits are set to expire for the rest of the country next month.

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BRUSSELS — Back in June, the European Union urged its member countries to reopen their borders to travelers from the United States, hoping to give a boost to the continent’s ailing tourism sector in the crucial summer season.

It worked. American tourists flocked to the beaches of Spain and Greece, the countryside of Italy and the streets of Amsterdam and Paris.

But on Monday, the European Union proposed new travel restrictions for unvaccinated visitors from the United States, a response to the alarming surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across the Atlantic.

In removing the United States from a “safe list” of countries whose residents can travel without requirements such as quarantine and testing, the European Council of the European Union, which represents governments of the bloc’s 27 countries, signaled that potential restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus may remain in place for months. The new measures could deal a fresh blow to Europe’s ailing tourism sector.

Other countries removed from the “safe list” include Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro and North Macedonia, most which have reported a surge of cases in the past 14 days, according to a New York Times tracker.

The suggested restrictions are not mandatory, and it remains up to each European Union member state to follow the guidelines. So it was not immediately clear which countries, if any, would reintroduce restrictions or when they might begin.

If enforced, the new restrictions would apply to unvaccinated travelers only. The European Council already recommends that all visitors who have been inoculated with an E.U.-approved vaccine be allowed to travel. That includes the three vaccines available in the United States and manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna, as well as AstraZeneca.

Some countries have also implemented more stringent measures than others, even for visitors from a country on the safe list, yet once visitors have entered an E.U. country, they can move across the bloc freely.

Under the current guidelines, unvaccinated travelers from countries on the European Council’s safe list can visit E.U. countries without quarantining by showing a negative test. But a minority of countries have also kept self-isolation requirements in place, including, in some cases, for vaccinated visitors.

Meanwhile, United States has remained closed to Europeans, who have expressed frustration at the lack of reciprocity.

With more than 52 percent of Americans fully vaccinated, most were able to travel to Europe without hurdles this summer and can continue to do so. Yet the decision to remove the United States from the safe list could still create confusion among American tourists, said Marie Audren, the director of HOTREC, a lobbying group that represents the hospitality industry in Europe.

“Every client at a hotel, a restaurant, a bar or a cafe was valuable to the tourism industry this summer,” Ms. Audren said. “And in recent years American tourists have become increasingly important to European countries.”

In France, Greece and Spain, U.S. visitors make up the largest contingent of tourists from non-European countries, according

Registered Nurse Lori Kelley dons an N95 mask and other PPE before entering the room of a COVID-19 patient at Goodall-Witche…

Kansas nurses have seen a lot of heartbreak in the past 15 months.

Every time there appears to be a lull in the COVID-19 pandemic in the state, a new set of challenges have been right around the corner.

For Adam Tebben, the latest round of painful moments entails watching patients, potentially on a ventilator and dealing with severe complications from the virus, beg for a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Unfortunately, we tell them, you know, it’s not going to do you any good, we have to treat your symptoms now,” said Tebben, a clinical nurse coordinator at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita.

Tebben isn’t normally the person to deal with intensive care patients. But the rise in the number of serious virus cases has forced them into the emergency room where he and his colleagues work, sometimes for hours at a time — or longer.

More:KDHE issues Kansas COVID-19 rankings to aid local leaders. How does your county compare?

Vaccination rates statewide are increasing, although not fast enough to bring Kansas back from the brink of the situation it finds itself in. Hospital beds in the most populated parts of the state have filled up and while the more serious situations, encountered by health care workers in the deep south and Texas, have been avoided, it is unclear what the future holds. 

That heightens the frustration Tebben feels when he hears misinformation about the virus from family members of the same patients he is caring for, the same folks pleading for a vaccine.

“It’s really tough to sit there and do our job,” he said. “And we’re fighting to make sure that people are taken care of and we can’t do our best at it because we’re having huge influxes of these patients. And it really hits home and you wish that you could just bark at them and tell them, ‘Hey, you need to get vaccinated, because that might be the difference between you and what your loved one’s going through right now.'”

The feeling of frustration, pain and exhaustion has spread among nurses like Tebben, as well as other health care workers in the state. Public goodwill and appreciation for frontline workers has ebbed after the early days of the pandemic and some say they don’t feel taken care of by their employers, who are asking them to live up to the tall task of coping with a fourth wave of cases many thought — or hoped — would never come.

“Nurses feel that they’re being taken advantage of, by anti-vaxxers, especially when they need our direct care,” said Kelly Sommers, president of the Kansas State Nurses Association. “Some feel like they’re being taken advantage of by their employers. And many think they’re being taken advantage of by their local and state government.”

Amid COVID-19 crunch, hospitals spend hours searching for beds

The rise in cases associated with the variant has put hospitals throughout the country in a position they haven’t found themselves in since winter. 

Kansas is

(CNN) — Hawaii Gov. David Ige asked tourists to voluntarily stay away from the state amid a record surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations, though he stopped short of placing onerous restrictions on out-of-state visitors.

“We know that it is not a good time to travel to the islands,” Ige, a Democrat, said Monday. “The visitors who choose to come to the islands will not have the typical kind of holiday that they expect to get when they visit.”

He said tourism is hampered by a return of some Covid health restrictions, along with a shortage of rental cars. “There will be limited access to restaurants and other places to eat,” he said.

The governor’s request came on the same day Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi announced that the county would suspend all large gatherings for four weeks, including conventions and concerts. Indoor gatherings are limited to 10 people and outdoor gatherings to 25 people, and restaurants are limited to 50% capacity, according to an emergency health order.
“Covid-19 cases are up dramatically, and our healthcare workers are being pushed beyond their limits,” Blangiardi tweeted Monday.

Spurred by the highly transmissible Delta variant, Hawaii is in the midst of a surge in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations that has surpassed any previous point in the pandemic.

The state has averaged about 700 new cases per day over the last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, a total 10 times higher than in early July. In particular, Covid hospitalizations have doubled in the last two weeks, according to data from US Health and Human Services.

Still, Covid-19 deaths remain remarkably low, a likely consequence of the state’s above-average vaccination rate; about 66% of adults in Hawaii are fully vaccinated.
Throughout the pandemic, Hawaii has had some of the strictest measures in the US in place and required all visitors to either quarantine for 10 days or present a negative Covid test upon arrival. Early last month, the state began to allow fully vaccinated visitors to bypass those restrictions.

The restrictions had sharply limited new Covid-19 cases for much of the past year but had a brutal economic impact on a state so heavily reliant on tourism.

As of July, Hawaii had a seasonally adjusted unemployment rate of 7.3%, sixth worst among all states, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Further, Hawaii had the highest unemployment rate of any state when looking at the most broadly defined category of unemployment, known as U-6, which includes discouraged workers and people forced to work part time because full time work is not available.

Gov. Ige acknowledged these issues but still asked visitors not to come to better protect hospitals from being overwhelmed.

“Certainly, our call to reduce travel to the islands to only central businesses will have an impact on the numbers who come here, but I also would like to point out that our hospitals are at capacity, our ICUs are full. We are working on surge plans

Two popular Maui travel message boards on Facebook saw a spike in questions as soon as news spread Monday that Hawaii Gov. David Ige urged tourists to stay away through October.

“I fly out tomorrow and leave Monday. If they shut down the state within that time would we get stuck there? Or will they allow us to leave?”

“Does anybody know if Costco Travel is refunding based on the governor’s latest announcement?”

“When is the governor suggesting travel could reasonably resume as (trip) planning is taking place?”

Traveler confusion is to be expected given ever-changing COVID-19 travel restrictions around the world, and Hawaii’s rules are among the most stringent. 

Here’s what travelers need to know about travel to Hawaii this fall:

Can you still travel to Hawaii?

Yes.

Hawaii didn’t change its entry requirements Monday. Travelers must still be vaccinated or present negative results from a coronavirus test taken no more than three days before departure to bypass a mandatory 10-dayquarantine. The governor simply asked tourists not to visit Hawaii through October because of a surge in COVID-19 cases, which he said has hospitals and intensive care units at capacity. Ige asked airlines, hotels and other tourism businesses to spread the message and do what they can to discourage travel.

Is Hawaii shutting down again?

No, at least not yet.

Ige was asked during a news conference at what point in the case surge the state would consider lockdowns, which were prevalent across the country in the early months of the pandemic. In Hawaii, beaches and parks and other outdoor activities were closed, among a host of other restrictions. Tourists were effectively banned for several months in 2020 because of a strict 14-day quarantine.

Ige said Hawaii is doing everything it can to make sure hospitals have enough capacity to treat patients, including setting up tents outside to treat those who aren’t seriously ill.

Another factor that blunts the need for a lockdown, he said: vaccination rates. Vaccines were not available when the economy shut down last year.

Ige said there is no magic number the state is looking at to determine whether another lockdown is necessary. 

“At the point we feel that we don’t have any other resources to expand (health care) capacity, then certainly we will have to look at more drastic actions,” he said.

Hawaii tightened restrictions on restaurant capacity because of the surge in cases.

Are airlines canceling Hawaii flights to curtail travel?

Except for cuts in service as summer vacation season ends, which will automatically reduce tourist numbers, there is no evidence that airlines heeded the governor’s call to discourage travel to Hawaii.

Southwest Airlines advertised sale fares to Hawaii on Tuesday, including a $159 one-way deal from Phoenix, for travel from Aug. 25 through mid-December.

Southwest Airlines' website touts cheap fares to Hawaii.

Concerns about the delta variant of the coronavirus have reduced the number of travelers. Airlines for America, the industry’s lobbying group, said its latest data shows ticket bookings have fallen since mid-July.

Is it safe to travel

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas hospitals are clamoring for traveling nurses as the number of COVID-19 patients rises to levels last seen in January.

The state had 407 open travel nurse positions as of Monday, according to data from Aya Healthcare, a leading travel nursing agency. Employers are willing to pay big dollars, with advertised positions in Kansas and Missouri topping $5,600 a week, The Kansas City Star reports.

“You can’t fault them for wanting to take advantage of this opportunity,” said Kelly Sommers, director of the Kansas State Nurses Association. She said nurses are making three times more traveling than they could in a regular job.

Robin Allaman, chief nursing officer at the 25-bed Kearny County Hospital in tiny Lakin, told The Associated Press that the rising prices are making it hard to hire traveling nurses.

“There is somewhat of a bidding war going on for those staff members, so you may think you have someone coming the next day and then only to call and find out that they have canceled your contract and accepted one for much higher pay,” she said.

Cindy Samuelson, a spokeswoman for the Kansas Hospital Association, said in an email to the AP that the demand for traveling nurses over the last month in a region that includes Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska has increased anywhere from 35% to 127%, depending on the type of position.

The association has floated several options to address the demand, including additional funding to offset the cost to retain and recruit staff. The money, which would presumably go toward pay and benefits for staff, would help “keep these burned-out staff members across our communities retained,” Samuelson said.

Additional measures proposed by the association include helping small, sometimes rural, hospitals keep acutely ill patients in their facilities. This could involve more extensive consultations between doctors at larger hospitals that have handled many COVID-19 patients and those at smaller facilities with less experience.

The association has also discussed finding ways to refer more rural patients transferred to large hospitals back to their small community hospitals after they improve, as well as providing flexibility around licensing to make sure professionals coming from other states can begin working quickly.

In a letter Wednesday, Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, urged Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly to act on a “serious shortage of nurses” in hospitals. He raised the possibility of using federal COVID-19 funds for sign-on bonuses, overtime pay and other incentives.

Kelly also expressed concerns about the staffing problems in a news conference last week. In a news release Thursday, she reminded nurses who got extra time to renew their licenses amid the pandemic that the waiver that had allowed them to keep working was expiring because it was issued under a disaster declaration that GOP lawmakers ended earlier this year. The deadline for those nurses to renew their license is Saturday.

She also used the release to push for vaccinations, saying “We must reduce the strain on our

New unemployment claims in Washington dipped slightly last week as a rebounding state economy continued to add more jobs.

But that encouraging news comes with a warning from the state’s economist: Thanks to surging COVID-19 cases, the state could see renewed layoffs and a slowdown in recent hiring.

“I’m not expecting a dramatic change, but one that could slow down the pace of job growth from where the state was the last two months,” said Paul Turek, ESD’s state economist.  

Washingtonians filed 5,357 new, or “initial,” claims for unemployment benefits last week, a 3.1% decrease from the prior week, the state Employment Security Department (ESD) reported Thursday. Nationally, new claims rose 1.1% over the prior week, to 353,000, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday.

The state’s job market continued to recover: In July, Washington added 22,700 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 5.1%, from 5.2% in June, the ESD reported on Tuesday. The U.S. unemployment rate for July was 5.4%.

But those encouraging trends are likely to be affected by recent increases of COVID-19 cases from the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus, which has already prompted new government restrictions.

Indeed, although initial claims remain dramatically lower than during the early months of the pandemic, their numbers have crept back up in recent weeks. The 4-week moving average for regular initial claims last week was 5,306, which was up nearly 4% from a week earlier and is 2.1% higher than it was at the same period in 2019, ESD reported.

Turek said those trends might increase moderately if rising case counts result in renewed business restrictions and consumer anxieties that affect hiring. Already, some big employers have delayed plans to bring remote workers back to the office.

“This might, in turn, affect restaurants who might be relying on these workers who would go out to lunch,” Turek said. “There might be less business meetings and travel which could affect the transportation industry.”

“Consumers might also become more reluctant to travel and eat out and delay vacation plans, thereby affecting leisure and hospitality again,” Turek added

He also noted that because the July jobs report uses data from the beginning of the month, “the full impact of the variant” may not be apparent until next month.

That prospect comes as the state’s labor shortage, though perhaps not as severe as earlier this summer, also remains a concern.

The state’s leisure and hospitality sector, which has struggled for months to hire enough workers, added 11,800 jobs in July, according to ESD data.

Demand for workers remains elevated. Postings for new leisure and hospitality jobs, though down modestly from earlier this month, are again surging and were 32% higher than in January 2020, as of Aug. 20, according to data presented by Harvard University’s Economic Tracker. Overall job postings were up 16.8% in Washington.

Some employers have said the labor shortage has been exacerbated by the $300-a-week enhanced federal unemployment benefits, which expire after Labor Day.

In Washington state,