State launches second surveillance testing program

LIHU‘E — With a week left before reopening, the state is committing to a surveillance testing program that will randomly select 10% of travelers to take a state-funded second test.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the program will “ideally” start four days after reopening, on Oct. 19.

“Getting people to voluntarily take a test is part of something bigger, which is the safety of Hawai‘i,” Green, at a press conference at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Wednesday, said.

Next Thursday, the state will open on its Safe Travels program, allowing travelers into the state to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine by providing a NAAT (nucleic acid amplification test) result from a certified lab administered within 72 hours of arrival from a trusted testing partner.

The state has partnered with testing facilities and travel airlines, including AFC Urgent Care, Carbon Health, CityHealth Urgent Care, Color, CVS Health, Hawaiian Airlines, Kaiser Permanente (for members only), Quest Diagnostics, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Vault Health and Walgreens.

The pre-test must come from a trusted partner, Green said, because it will allow the state to double-check the status of the test if needed.

Details are still being finalized on the surveillance program, Green said, but essentially, at random, 10% of incoming travelers will receive a test four days later.

Dr. Libby Char, Director of the state’s Department of Health, said that a second test should be added once there’s the testing capacity.

“The science currently dictates that more layers of protection, such as more testing, is safer than less testing,” Char said. “While the Safe Travels program adds a greater layer of safety, DOH supports additional testing for travelers entering our state and a second test should be added as soon as testing supplies and logistics make this feasible. The Dept. of Health will continue to advocate for this additional layer of protection as the situation evolves in Hawai‘i and new tests and new information become available.”

Ige said he recognizes that mayors must balance reopening with the safety of their communities, but that bringing back tourists is essential to the economy.

“This is the biggest single effort since the pandemic began to revive our economy,” Ige said.

The state isn’t expecting a rush of tourists next week, and many airlines have stated they will not be expanding service until November.

Ige said he is working with mayors to lift the interisland quarantine, which Mayor Derek Kawakami has noted as prioritizing tourists to locals.

“The interisland quarantine is to keep neighbor islands safe,” Ige said.

The state will also receive 420,000 Abbot BINAXNOW rapid antigen tests from the federal government by the end of the year, with tests coming in weekly. These 15-minute tests will first go toward long term care centers and to schools reopening, Gov. David Ige said.

On Wednesday, the state reported 110 new positive cases and three additional deaths.

There are currently 109 people hospitalized from the virus, which is a 65% decrease from peak hospitalization, according to Green.

Of the new cases, 18 are on Hawai‘i Island, 90 on O‘ahu and two out of state for a cumulative total of 13,045 cases statewide since the end of February.

  1. Dr. Martin October 8, 2020 1:47 am Reply

    7000 doctors want to end lockdown

  2. L. Cormie October 8, 2020 6:24 am Reply

    Aloha all ☀️
    That’s wonderful news for the Big Island.
    The second random test is all mayor Kim requested, so it meets all government needs.
    Thank you for working with mayor Kim to help us survive. Big Island has suffered so much. Blessings to all

  3. Moloaa Farmer October 8, 2020 7:42 am Reply

    This is from todays newspaper:
    Ige said: “he is working with mayors to lift the interisland quarantine”.

    This is good news.
    We do need to return to our normal freedoms, which includes being able to travel interisland to visit our Ohana and conduct our business.

    Then we read: “which Mayor Derek Kawakami has noted as prioritizing tourists to locals.”

    Say what?
    Lifting interisland quarantine is for the benefit of the locals.
    And tourists coming to the outer islands is good for the locals as well, because we need our jobs.

    Then Ige said: “The interisland quarantine is to keep neighbor islands safe,”

    Yes, and our jobs keep us fed and clothed and housed.
    You cannot prioritize one over another for many months on end.
    We have an uninterupted constitutional right to the persuit of happiness and prosperity.

    Let’s protect the vunarable, we now know who they are.

    Risks are a part of human life. People die each day, it’s unfortunate and it hurts, but it’s life on earth.

    We are smart and can make decisions for ourselves. We don’t need a government “lording ” over us.

    Set us free! We not only can handle our freedom, but we need it to survive!!

    May God bless our leaders to have wisdom and courage!

    1. Kauaidoug October 9, 2020 9:51 am Reply

      I’m sure this hasn’t been easy for you or anyone else but we are Covid19 free for now. But people confuse public health issues with so called freedoms. Do you complain about driving on the correct side of the road, wear seatbelts, stop at red lights? Then why complain about keeping everyone safe?
      Your jobs and businesses are useless if you don’t have your health. That was Trump’s big mistake. Instead of concentrating on fixing or mitigating the pandemic, let alone deny it, he too, thought if people are working and the stock market is good everything else will follow. We all know our health is paramount to enjoying the freedoms, the real Freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution.
      The sooner health and science hold sway in the White House the sooner we can get a handle on the pandemic.
      Let’s exercise our Freedom to vote, no, not Freedom but duty and responsibility as citizens to vote.

  4. Uncleaina October 8, 2020 8:41 am Reply

    I can only imagine how many different ways this will get screwed up. I feel badly for anyone who’s healthy today but gets COVID from this amateur hour attempt. Unfortunately it’s going to lead to another shutdown with near 100% certainty. Mayor K has done so well but this plan is classic ready fire aim.

  5. Kauaidoug October 8, 2020 10:38 am Reply

    Relying on tourist to test three days later seems like a stretch. Are we expecting people to spend part of their precious days here coming in for testing? Are they going somewhere for a test,does a public health official go somewhere to administer this test? Forgive me if I missed the answers to these questions but has this been addressed. If officials are confused now just wait. I see no clear plan one week from reopening.

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