A week to go, officials weigh-in on reopening

LIHU‘E — The county has not ruled out opting out of the state’s pre-travel testing program, County of Kaua‘i Managing Director Michael Dahilig briefed the Kaua‘i County Council Wednesday.

“We cannot legally do anything to force a quarantine again and a 72-hour test without the Governor’s approval,” Dahilig said.

Next week, incoming travelers to the state can bypass the mandatory two-week quarantine with 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 the state.

Gov. David Ige denied Kaua‘i County’s two-test program proposal that 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 and from a 15,000 rapid test supply the county purchased.

With this denial, Ige gave the islands the option to opt-out of the pre-test program and continue to enforce a 14-day quarantine.

On Tuesday, Mayor Derek Kawakami said there’s too much left unanswered to choose to opt-out just yet.

“Decisions must be deliberate and we can’t commit to plans we don’t fully understand,” Kawakami said. “Our goal from the beginning has been to supplement the Governor and Lt. Governor’s statewide travel plan. The option to opt out is a recent development.”

Kawakami said the state denied the two-test program because it wanted “consistency across the board, so visitors would not be confused.”

“We need more details on what an ‘opt out’ means for the counties, and whether that provides the option for us to implement a single-test post-arrival program,” he said.

Kawakami said that Lt. Gov. Josh Green has “committed” to enhanced testing, like a surveillance testing program that focuses on using testing capacity on first responders, people coming back from college and other high-risk groups following the Oct. 15 reopening.

Kawakami said he doesn’t want to “extend a mandatory 14-day quarantine in perpetuity.” On Wednesday, he acknowledged how up-in-the-air the situation is.

“We recognize that the uncertainty is a big problem for our community, and we are trying to reach a resolution as soon as possible,” he said. “We will announce any updates as details are confirmed.”

Dr. Fauci weighs in

Interviewed by Green on Wednesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, said that testing can be split into two buckets.

The first, when a person is symptomatic or has been exposed which is a more sensitive test. The second, he said, is for surveillance using a less sensitive test.

“The reality is, no matter what you do, there are going to be infected people who slip through the cracks,” Fauci said. “The critical issue is that you have such a low level of infection right now, that you should be able to handle and prevent that from blipping up.”

Fauci said a two-week quarantine can be harmful to the economy.

“A fourteen-day quarantine in a location that depends on tourism is a real tough one because most people have two weeks of vacation, and they don’t want to spend it locked up in a hotel no matter how beautiful,” Fauci said. “You don’t want to go and quarantine everybody.”

Fauci suggested that a cheap rapid test, while not as sensitive, can be used to weed out potential threats.

“You’re not going to get everybody, but statistically you’ll dramatically diminish an infected person entering,” he said. He also liked Green’s surveillance program.

Council reaction

At Wednesday’s county meeting, Council Chair Arryl Kaneshiro and councilmember Luke Evslin both voiced their discouragement by the state’s lack of collaboration with the county.

Individually, members said they would be drafting and sending letters to the Governor, but Kaneshiro said he doesn’t think it’ll have much weight.

“I’ll be truthful, letters and resolution will do the same thing,” Kaneshiro said. “If it changes the Governor’s mind, I don’t think it will.”

Councilmember Mason Chock already wrote to Ige on Oct. 5, asking the state to reconsider.

Chock noted that travelers could enter the state infected under the pre-test program with a negative test leading to an adverse

“When additional cases are added to the infections already int he community, it will cause untold harm to the people and economy of Hawai‘i, potentially overwhelming the State’s already challenged health care resources, especially on Kaua‘i, leading to ill health, loss of life, suppression of the non-tourism economy, disruption of every aspect of life in Hawai‘i and another shutdown and economic disaster.”

Chock writes that doctors support a second test after six days of quarantine and that a two-test plan.

“I strongly recommend your favorable reconsideration of a science-based 2-test plan or a proven science-based multi-test antigen plan and take the time to develop a comprehensive defense against the entry of COVID-19 into the State and the spread of COVID-19 in the community,” Chock wrote.

Speaking out

Residents have taken to an online petition, calling for Ige to reconsider.

The petition titled “Re-open Hawaii travel with a 3-day waiting period!” had 1,192 signatures Wednesday night.

“Many of those who love Kaua‘i are familiar with how important it is to remain calm and steady in high surf. COVID has the power of those waves, and it has brought the world to its knees,” petition creator Matthew Kievlan wrote.

Kievlan started the petition to protect the health of his family and community, he said in an email Wednesday.

“The community has shared the petition on Facebook, so that we went from five signatures in the first two hours, to 1,100 signatures in the first two days,” he said.

  1. mina October 8, 2020 5:57 am Reply

    If you’re in denial about what’s happening on Oahu, sure, go ahead and reopen. Also, say good-bye to a lot of the Kapuna who are paying your rents, watching your kids while you’re at work, and cooking for you. They will be he first to go when this monster gets loose on Kauai.

  2. randy kansas October 8, 2020 6:18 am Reply

    never voting for these Kauai knuckleheads again…they got me the first time, but never again..

  3. Kimberley Veilleux October 8, 2020 6:32 am Reply

    From my following your news, I highly recommend you follow the national infectious disease experts advice, eg Dr. Fauci, and your local economists data to prevent the locals from unemployment and loss of income. Best prevention of Covid is not to bar people but to enforce mask wearing and social distancing.
    Dr. Kim Veilleux
    Resident in Koloa

  4. rk669 October 8, 2020 6:46 am Reply

    No need Jobs,we get Breadlines!
    Just ask Cowerd Commee.
    Just Like Monkeys at the Zoo,our leaders do reflect!

  5. Joseph J Consolini October 8, 2020 6:47 am Reply

    It makes no sense to have both a 14 day quarantine for people who are untested but possibly infected and also a negative test within 72 hours of arrival. This would expose all the people who tested negative to all the untested people planning to quarantine for 14 days on the plane, in the airport and checkin to the hotel. No one should be allowed to get on a plane or a ship going to Hawaii if they cannot show an approved, high accuracy negative test. Period.

    1. jl October 8, 2020 4:53 pm Reply

      I agree! No negative test, no boarding aircraft! And I strongly support a 72 hour quarantine with rapid test on for those who had the negative test 72 hours before arrival.

    2. Any sanity out there? October 8, 2020 6:12 pm Reply

      Totally agree! Every traveler has to be pre-tested in the prescribed manner, not exposed to potentially contagious co-flyers. Then have random spot testing arrivals with rapid tests. That should resolve ALL issues.
      What an asinine idea to let untested folks mingle on a 6 hour flight with tested people – and then hold travelers in further days of quarantine, because you don’t know who might NOW be positive?

    3. Everythingisawesome October 8, 2020 7:36 pm Reply

      What difference does it make if everyone on the plane is masked?

      “Everyone needs to wear a mask or we’ll all die!”

      “Masks won’t stop tourists from killing everyone!”

      Which is it?

  6. wtf? October 8, 2020 8:28 am Reply

    14-day quarantine being lifted + kids returning to school = a recipe for disaster :/

    I wouldn’t be surprised if 2 weeks later the school’s get shut down again, kids go back to distance learning & our cumulative cases, here on Kauai, hits the triple digits. All the hard work & sacrifices our island & people have done for the last 6 months will mean nothing.

    Ige, you need to open your eyes & realize that Mayor Kawakami’s efforts & “dramatic” choices have kept our island and it’s people safe. It’s so disappointing that some one as ignorant as you has the “final say” to f*ck it up for all of us.

  7. John October 8, 2020 8:47 am Reply

    Dear voters of Kauai – next election please remember Kawakami, Ige and Green’s BETRAYAL of our safety and health to their corporate overlords in the tourism industry. They and they alone are responsible for the widespread Covid infections and death that are about to occur on our island.

  8. Da Shadow October 8, 2020 9:33 am Reply

    all this talk from unqualified “experts.”
    how about we consider the advice of our heroes who are actually on the front-lines, battling the virus?

    to wit:

    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.
    Roberto A. Cueva, MD, FACS
    Southern California Kaiser Permanente
    Clinical Professor, Voluntary
    University of California, San Diego

    1. Kauaidoug October 9, 2020 10:09 am Reply

      Yes, and this doctor’s argument is flawed. People in pre op act completely different than someone excited about a trip to Hawaii. Pre-op goes to hospital, gets test and goes home so as to get ready for upcoming operation. The vacationer has things to do before a trip running here and there and we don’t know if that vacationer to be is wearing a mask and following cdc rules we are all aware of while prepping for the trip. Two totally different behaviors after a test and I didn’t mention the traveller is going to an airport and traveling !

  9. not all of us are rich October 8, 2020 9:37 am Reply

    the elite few who don’t have to work or rely on functioning business are the ones most vocal about delaying re-opening, or implementing draconian measures that further stall business.
    Is their primary goal to shut us all down? to force thousands of us to move off-island?
    Is the inconvenience of traffic in Kapa’a impeding their ability to get to the golf course?
    Maybe Mason Chock and the pediatrician Dr Elfskin should think of the thousands of us who have to earn a living.

  10. I saw a Vampire once October 8, 2020 2:49 pm Reply

    You were on Facebook? The candidates. They really don’t care you know the people on Facebook what the issue is. So what ever you say anything goes. If there were a bomber on Facebook and you saw it, that is still legal grounds to communicate with the bomber.

    What is this minor detail on COVID-19? Just tell them to leave. Not needed to test again.

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