County still waiting on Ige’s answers to Safe Travels rules

LIHU‘E — Two local rules proposed by Mayor Derek Kawakami to the state remain in limbo, with hopes diminishing on getting approval from Gov. David Ige.

Monday afternoon, the county submitted two proposed local rules that would bridge gaps in the state’s Safe Travels program which allows travelers to bypass a mandatory 14-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival into the state or into the county.

“Our Kaua‘i Incident Management Team feels strongly that we are at a critical juncture where swift decisive action is needed, but my authority as Mayor is limited and ultimately, it requires the approval of the Governor,” Kawakami said Wednesday afternoon.

The first rule would require participants of the program to quarantine for 72 hours prior to taking a mandatory post-travel test. Upon a negative result, the traveler may be released from the quarantine.

“Our ultimate goal is to avoid overrunning our healthcare capacity and to avoid a full shutdown of our economy,” he said. “The second post-travel test with a short three-day quarantine seems to be the best compromise to ensure a truly Safe Travel program.”

The second rule requires travelers to have a negative test prior to flying to Kaua‘i. If results are not available upon arrival on island, the traveler would be required to quarantine for two weeks.

“Requiring travelers to have a negative test before they land is a clear and simple requirement, and we will continue to push for that outcome,” Kawakami said.

In the past, Ige suggested he’d respond within a 24-hour window upon receiving rules, which has eclipsed. Tuesday, Ige told KITV that he probably would not approve these rules and that the state is working on its own adjustments to the program.

Should rules continue to be denied, the county may consider leaving the Safe Travels program.

Kawakami called the rules “bold, common-sense solutions to keep our county open and allow us to remain in Tier 4.”

He reiterated that opting out would be “detrimental to many of our small businesses.”

“But if the state is unwilling to require travelers to take simple precautions, we cannot continue to support the Lt. Governor’s current travel program as-is,” Kawakami said.

Since the state’s Oct. 15 reopening, the county has seen nine travel-related positive cases that involved travelers who had taken a pre-travel but received their positive results after boarding their flights and arriving on the island.

“This means they could have unknowingly exposed others to the virus while flying and during their time on island,” Kawakami said. “This is a dangerous gap in the current Safe Travels program that we would like to fix.”

Fourteen cases have been linked to travelers with a negative pre-travel test later being diagnosed with COVID-19 either through a voluntary post-test or symptoms, including a new case announced Wednesday.

Wednesday’s new case brought the county’s cumulative case total to 95, with 85 confirmed locally. There is currently one person hospitalized and the rest in isolation, according to the county.

The county remains on Tier 4, the lowest, least restrictive tier on Kauai’s Business and Recreational Guidelines for COVID-19 Tier Tracker. A transition to Tier 3, which restricts gatherings, if COVID-19 would occur if the county sees a weekly average of two or more cases per day for two weeks or test positivity rates remains exceeds a weekly average of 1% for two weeks.

  1. Joe November 19, 2020 4:09 am Reply

    Not sure why it’s so difficult for Ige to make a decision. Just tell Kauai “no” and let them withdraw from Safe Travels program.

  2. Uncleaina November 19, 2020 6:19 am Reply

    I used to have respect for Dr Josh Green – but he’s fumbling this decision terribly.

  3. barbara guiliano November 19, 2020 7:46 am Reply

    I support Kawakami.

  4. Paulo November 19, 2020 9:12 am Reply

    Kauai needs to opt out if the Governor does not agree to our mayor’s request. This is ridiculous that travelers are allowed to come into the state without a verified negative test. AND they must complete a 3 day quarantine prior to taking the 2nd test. How many active COVID cases are we willing to subject Kauai too?

  5. John November 19, 2020 11:16 am Reply

    There’s really no question anymore that Ige is either corrupt or inept or both. He’s an absolutely terrible governor. I used to have faith in Kawakami as our mayor, but now I suspect he is also in Big Tourism’s pockets. Both should be investigated!

  6. Paulo November 19, 2020 12:55 pm Reply

    4 new cases reported this afternoon giving us 19 active cases.

  7. shirley mills November 19, 2020 3:34 pm Reply

    I understand the concerns of your Mayor. However, it is almost becoming impossible to travel to your beautiful island as it is. Right now you are requiring a traveler to have a test NO SOONER THAN 72 HOURS BEFORE THEIR FLIGHT. It is hard enough for the overwhelmed Labs who are processing the tests to turn the results around in 2-3 days, and that is why people are coming in without test results when they land, and quarantining until they have their result. I am not sure how you would expect a traveler to have their test result in hand given the short time frame between having the test done (72 hours before flight) and then lab producing the result within 2 days. If the labs guarantee a result turnaround in 2 days, then all would be good. Otherwise it is just another hurdle to climb and am sure less people would travel there.

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