LIHU‘E — Mayor Derek Kawakami is requesting the state modify its Safe Travels program to require travelers have their pre-travel test results prior to travel.
As it currently stands, the Safe Travels program allows incoming travelers to bypass a state-mandated, two-week quarantine by producing a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival in Hawai‘i. One of the issues the state has found is travelers receiving positive tests after touchdown.
As of Friday, the county has reported eight cases of travelers receiving positive results after arrival. All of these were trans-Pacific related.
“We acknowledge that there are too many gaps in the current Safe Travel program and improvements must be made,” Kawakami said Friday.
On Friday, the county reported two new cases, to bring the active total to 17. Two of these cases are hospitalized.
The county remains on Tier 4, with concerns of breaking a one-week daily average of two, which will take it to a more-restrictive Tier 3 into a holiday season.
The state reported 110 new COVID-19 infections Friday, including 92 on O‘ahu, eight on Hawai‘i Island, the two on Kaua‘i, one on Maui, and seven state residents diagnosed elsewhere.
As active COVID-19 cases reach a county high, health officials are warning of community spread once again.
“It is clear that after many months with very little disease, COVID-19 is now rapidly increasing in our community,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office officer Friday. “Since traveler restrictions were loosened, we have seen a dramatic rise in cases.”
Berreman reiterated that gathering in small groups outdoors with masks, as well as traveling with caution, can be performed, but must be done with care, like staying home when ill and avoiding close contacts in the two weeks after travel.
“If we all resolve to take action, we can keep our community safer,” she said.
The DOH released its weekly mask statistics, and Kaua‘i’s usage has fallen behind other counties.
For the week of Nov. 7, Kaua‘i’s mask-wearing came in at 76%, while all other counties had use above 80%.
“That means one person out of four in public places was not wearing a mask,” Berreman said. “Perhaps we were, understandably, less careful because our infection numbers were so low. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. With our numbers climbing, we can and must do better.”
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.