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Ige denies county’s proposed second-test program

LIHU‘E — Gov. David Ige has declined the county’s plans for a 72-hour post-travel COVID-19 test, or two-test program, for incoming travelers to Kaua‘i.

Mayor Derek Kawakami made the announcement Monday.

“While this news is disappointing, we have said since day one that we must be flexible and ready to adapt to our ever-changing environment in order to keep our community safe,” Kawakami said in a press release. “Today is no different.”

Beginning Oct. 15, incoming travelers to the state who are currently subject to the mandatory two-week quarantine will be exempt if they provide evidence of a negative U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) result from a certified lab administered within 72 hours of arrival to Hawai‘i.

The two-test program proposed by the county would have required all travelers, interisland and trans-Pacific, to take a second COVID-19 test no sooner than 72 hours after arrival to the island to avoid the quarantine. The test would have been at the expense of the traveler.

On Friday, the county announced it had purchased 15,000 rapid, same-day COVID-19 tests. While there are no tests that are approved by the FDA, the administration has issued “Emergency Use Authorizations,” which are the kits the county bought, a county spokesperson said Monday.

The county allocated $1 million of federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds for the tests.

With this recent announcement, the county must now “re-prioritize how we intend to utilize” the tests, the spokesperson said.

“Our county administration has been clear that a single pre-arrival testing program alone does not provide the needed level of protection for our Kaua‘i community,” Kawakami said.

Last week, he noted that the state’s plan appears to “prioritize our visitors first” because it does not allow interisland travelers to shorten or avoid the two-week quarantine.

“We are now developing a plan on how we can still utilize these tests to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on our island in light of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor’s pre-travel testing program which will commence on Oct. 15.”

Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said a second 72-hour test was a “solid middle ground” as opposed to a seven-day test and would have provided “considerable protection while also helping bring our economy back.”

“The evidence is clear that neither a single test before travel, nor a second test upon arrival at the airport provides sufficient protection for our community,” Berreman said.

Berreman explained that the county opted for a 72-hour test with consideration for the concerns of the tourism industry and local healthcare providers. The county will continue working toward ways to protect the island from an outbreak.

“I am concerned that relying on a single pre-travel test as an alternative to quarantine will introduce COVID-19 to Kaua‘i at levels that will strain our public health and healthcare systems, and put our community at risk,” Berreman said. “I will continue to work with the Mayor and the team to find alternative approaches to continuing to protect our community to the best of our abilities, while also facilitating the responsible return of more diverse economic activity.”

In a Facebook video on Sunday, Lt. Gov. Josh Green addressed the second test program, saying it would be “problematic” as it would overload testing capacity. Green said tests should be prioritized for first responders and high-risk groups, not travelers. However, Kaua‘i’s proposal would not have used local tests.

“We need to make sure the policies match our need,” Green said.

The Office of the Governor did not respond to a request for comment before press time.

The county currently has zero active cases of COVID-19.

The Hawai‘i Department of Health reported 52 new positive cases on Monday; one new case on Maui, 10 on Hawai‘i Island and 41 on O‘ahu for a cumulative total of 12,854 cases statewide.

There are currently 2,202 active cases throughout the state, with 128 hospitalized and 39 in intensive care units.

•••

Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

25 Comments
  1. Kauaiguy October 6, 2020 4:36 am Reply

    Thank you Governor, thank you. Note to those who have yet to live in an area of high infection rate of Covid-19. As one who has lived through days of 800 -/+ new cases per day in my immediate area the following steps are what practically everyone is doing to live their lives given the environment and circumstances they face.

    1. Wear a mask. Wear it the way you are suppose to and if you don’t understand please ask friends, family, call your local authorities whoever they are and ask them what this means, but for everyone’s sake don’t make it awkward and be that person who doesn’t cover THEIR ENTIRE MOUTH & NOSE.

    2. Socially distance yourself from anyone you don’t personally know by at minimum 6 feet if not a bit more. If you want to take some risks in order to see loved ones, friends or family try to create a “bubble” or “pod” of people you openly talk to about staying safe, practicing certain measures that you all agree on. Ultimately, you can’t control others and have to hope they are being safe too.

    3. Treat everyone with more respect than you ever have before in your ENTIRE life. It’s really hard for everyone to transition and comes to accept our new way of life. Have patience for elderly, young ones and anyone who isn’t as fast as you are. Wave to people since we can’t see your face and let them know you’re friendly. We can all use some love right.

    Looking forward to seeing everyone on the island come the 15th.


  2. nobody October 6, 2020 7:02 am Reply

    It’s sad that on Kauai there are people who will not practice basic health precautions such as social distancing, wearing masks, etc. These people will most likely be the cause of the virus breaking out and causing the government to lock down the rest of the population and the deaths of the citizens with underlying health conditions.

    Stubborn, selfish people.


  3. Chamundi Sabanathan October 6, 2020 7:52 am Reply

    Gov. Ige has shown total disregard for the health of Kauai’s residents.
    Can we prepare a handout, to be given to all arrivals, which would explain the spirit of Aloha and the concerns of residents, and offer a voluntary retest around 72 hours of arrival–with space for them to write down the names of people they’ve been in contact with in the meantime?
    To encourage compliance, the 72-hour test could be free to the visitor, “with all donations gratefully accepted.”


    1. Jamie Rainbow October 6, 2020 11:33 pm Reply

      I would be happy to help keep Kauai safer, Mahalo


  4. Kauai Gal October 6, 2020 7:55 am Reply

    We need to mandate a “no test, no travel” policy, as so many other destinations have. We can’t have people who have tested negative flying over in the same plane with people who have opted not to test. It’s a recipe for disaster! If they want to come, they gotta test. Period!


  5. Paulo October 6, 2020 8:02 am Reply

    I know the Governor has a lot to consider, but in this case he seems to have placed consideration for transpacific travelers over Kauai citizens’ health. As for Lt. Gov. Josh Green MD, I did not expect him to also take this stance. It’s disappointing. We have separate counties and each should be allowed their own discretion in reopening and subjecting people to COVID.


  6. ERIK COOPERSMITH October 6, 2020 8:21 am Reply

    We keep hearing about this 72-hour pre-arrival test ‘window’. So how will that work? When does the 72 hours even actually begin and end? Let’s say I receive an email on Monday at 2:00 pm in California that I got a negative covid test, so I can fly to Hawaii without having to quarantine. Can I get on a plane on Thursday at 1:00 pm in California, arriving after 2:00 pm in Hawaii? Who is going to check on all this and figure out who is good to go and who is not? If a test is a few minutes more than 72 hours old will that person be refused the right to fly? So one family member gets left behind because his/her test was returned 72 hours and 15 minutes before flight or arrival time? And how confused are travelers and those responsible for instituting these rules going to be trying to figure out just this one piece of the whole mess? While certainly well-intended, the logistics of this whole program seem virtually insurmountable to me if we are going to be real about it.


  7. Hirondelle October 6, 2020 8:36 am Reply

    May we assume that, during the months of sequestering and discussing various options, the County has been stockpiling PPE (such as N-95 masks) and acquiring more ventilators and expanding the ICU capacity at Wilcox or other sites? This would be a practical move with potential use beyond the Covid 19 epidemic.


  8. Kali October 6, 2020 10:14 am Reply

    Great news. Let’s get back to work. For all of you who are for a second traveler paid test. Do you know The logistics of trying to either track people down or organize testing for them will be a costly and mostly ineffective operation. Like they say do you best to practice proper hygiene, wear the mask if you need to, if you’re at risk YOU take the necessary precautions. People stop depending on the government to keep you safe.


  9. rk669 October 6, 2020 10:26 am Reply

    Not approved by the FDA? Which way did they go hair on Fire maeya? Get a Grip Fearful Leader! Dumb and Dumber for sure! Tap your feet and dosedoe?


  10. Susan October 6, 2020 10:52 am Reply

    Republican or Democrat or Independent, can we at least ALL agree to NOT vote for Ige next election???

    This guy is utterly spineless in his leadership abilities, refuses to commit to any policies or decisions that could save our islands from Covid spread, and just seems extremely incompetent and irresponsible to boot.

    #ANYONE EXCEPT IGE!


  11. Kimo October 6, 2020 10:58 am Reply

    Get ready for the second wave of infections once the horde arrives. I guess Gov. Ige isn’t listening to the medical experts. Not surprised at all.


    1. Everythingisawesome October 7, 2020 6:05 am Reply

      Kimo,
      Which “experts”? What are they saying?


      1. Guy October 8, 2020 12:43 pm Reply

        You wouldn’t recognize them.


  12. Uncleaina October 6, 2020 10:59 am Reply

    Was the White House able to control Covid with all their protocols? No! Listen after we’ve done all the things we’ve done to keep Covid at bay and now they plan to screw it up, Kauai people will take action. The current plan will miss 25% of people with Covid – just like the White House. And we’ll get infections immediately. All the efforts to not overload Wilcox – brushed aside. We NEED a second test!! Make sure you sign the change.org petition and if necessary we’re ready to protect Kauai. Never overthrown.


  13. Kauaidoug October 6, 2020 11:02 am Reply

    So we’re going to rely on one test 3 days before entry? A recipe for disaster. You folks realize there are very few places Americans are allowed to travel due to the virus? Other islands and nations have tried this one test and it has failed. If the test aren’t available then it should be no can do. The only way to stop spread if we have one, when we have one is a shut down resulting in returned money to fleeing tourists with their deposits. I don’t know about you but such an event would be not only dangerous for me health wise but devastating financially.
    This one test plan is losing our eyes on the prize. The prize being a safe reopening of our island and until a reliable vaccine comes along we must test at the airport on arrival. Stand your ground Mayor K!


  14. numilalocal October 6, 2020 12:55 pm Reply

    Why does the governor have this kind of authority against the mayor? I think Kawakami should just implement the plan to protect the rest of us.


    1. Jamie Rainbow October 6, 2020 11:41 pm Reply

      The Mayor should opt out like Harry Kim and Hawaii.


  15. Susan Oakley October 6, 2020 1:23 pm Reply

    Aloha again … Any possibility Kaua’i can claim Home Rule and override Gov Ige’s denial of Mayor Kawakami’s request for post-travel COVID-19 test? From this NY Times live update:

    On Thursday evening, senior administration officials confirmed that Stephen Miller, Mr. Trump’s top speechwriter and a policy adviser, had tested positive for the coronavirus, joining a growing list of Mr. Trump’s close aides who have the virus.
    “Over the last five days I have been working remotely and self-isolating, testing negative every day through yesterday,” Mr. Miller said in a statement. “Today, I tested positive for Covid-19 and am in quarantine.”

    Why does Kaua’i have to get State approval anyway?


  16. Harvey Mushman October 6, 2020 2:14 pm Reply

    Don’t give up Kauai – you are way smarter than the folks in Honolulu! There has to be a way to get visitors (and returning residents) to take multiple rapid tests (and don’t limit this to one as there are better and less expensive tests on the way). It’s win win proposition as both the traveler and the island benefit. Maybe toss in another test at the airport when tourists depart as a thank you for testing the first few days they are here . . .


  17. Nicholas Moore October 6, 2020 4:05 pm Reply

    Just Great, at a time like this, Kauai is hanging in there, and Gov Ige takes the opportunity to propase to not use all options available to protect Kauai from coronavirus.
    I remember when Dr. Evslin suggested that visitors to Kauai should have a test after quarantining on Oahu for 72 hours, and then another test 72 hours after arrival on Kauai while remaining in quarantine.
    Let’s please not take any shortcuts to reopen the island, once the seed is planted, it may never go away….
    It’s too bad all the expensive hotels, restaurants, rental cars and activities are shut down, It will be worse if Corona gets established over here as well..
    Residential safety should come first, Keep Corona OUT…..


    1. Da Shadow October 7, 2020 2:07 am Reply

      Dr Evslin is a retired pediatrician, he’s not exactly on the ‘front lines’ battling this virus.
      have you seen Dr Cueva’s more relevant letter to the Mayor and Governor?

      Dear Mayor Kawakami and Council Members:
      I have sent a letter of support to Governor Ige regarding the pre-travel COVID testing protocol that allows those traveling to the State of Hawaii to be exempt of a quarantine if they have evidence of a negative COVID test within three days prior to boarding their flight. I have a trip planned to Kauai for the Thanksgiving week to stay in our family’s home on your beautiful island. I am aware that Mayor Kawakami has requested that Governor Ige approve an alternate testing protocol that involves an additional COVID test no sooner than three days after arrival and requiring a quarantine during this waiting period and the number of days required to receive a result of this second test. Such a protocol would essentially negate the pre-travel test program. Mayor Kawakami, this second test protocol comes from a fear-based orientation from those advising you. I offer an evidence-based support for the single pre-travel testing protocol approved by Governor Ige.
      I am a physician that works at Southern California Kaiser Permanente. I do not speak for the organization but can relay valuable information in support of the pre-travel single test protocol. Our organization began using a pre-admission COVID test protocol for surgery and other hospital admissions in early May. Since that time tens of thousands of patients have received care and undergone surgery using this protocol that has resulted in no spike in COVID cases in our hospital staff, physicians nor patients. If a patient is COVID negative no heightened protective equipment is used (apart from standard masks) during surgery or their hospital care. As healthcare providers we are in much closer, intimate contact with our patients than would occur in the normal activities a visitor to Kauai would engage in with local inhabitants. As such, Governor Ige’s pre-travel COVID test protocol can be expected to protect Kauai’s residents as well as, or better than, we have been able to protect our valuable colleagues, staff and patients within our large hospital/healthcare system.
      In summary, please abandon the additional post-arrival COVID test and quarantine protocol you have requested be approved, as the evidence does not support such a restrictive program. Current mask use and social distancing, that is being practiced in virtually all other US states and other countries, combined with a negative pre-travel COVID test is highly unlikely to result in a threat to the safety of Kauai’s residents. Much needed return to economic activity on Kauai and all the islands of Hawaii will contribute to the emotional, psychological and general well-being of your citizens.
      Thank you in advance for your attention.
      Respectfully,
      Roberto A. Cueva, MD, FACS
      Southern California Kaiser Permanente
      and
      Clinical Professor, Voluntary
      University of California, San Diego


  18. Jamie Rainbow October 6, 2020 11:46 pm Reply

    I think Mayor Harry Kim of Hawaii island has maid the decision not to participate in the state’s pre travel testing program unless the governor approves a two-test option for the island that has seen coronavirus cases surge in recent weeks. Be strong Mayor and Kauai.


  19. jay wiliamson October 7, 2020 2:55 pm Reply

    Yikes! A 3 day quarantine to wait for a second test would kill any chance of a November/December tourism recovery. Visitors often plan a 2 or 3 island Hawaii vacation with only 2 or 3 days spent on each island. Young families visit during the holiday vacation weeks. No way kids will agree to being cooped up like chicks in a hen house. There are warm weather hotels in the southern states as well as Central America. Why would anyone in their right mind choose to be tested ($80-$250) and then fly to Hawaii to mope around in a tropical prison camp?


  20. judi glass October 7, 2020 3:31 pm Reply

    Please consider joining the mayor of Hawaii and only permit a 14 day quarantine for visitors The mayor has kept us safe along with the residents being respectful of wearing masks and social distancing Schools are getting ready to open all over the island and we can help keep our keiki and teachers safe.


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