Kawakami weighs in on new Safe Travels policy

LIHU‘E — At least 44 travelers using the state’s Safe Travels received positive COVID-19 test results upon arrival or in the following days, Gov. David Ige reported Thursday.

And 10 of those were on Kaua‘i, with a new instance as recently as Thursday.

Beginning next Tuesday, Nov. 24, domestic and international travelers will need to have their COVID-19 test results before flying to be able to bypass a two-week quarantine, Ige announced.

“We were adding this safety precaution now in response to the dramatically increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the continental United States and around the world,” Ige said. “(Forty-four) isn’t a large number, but it’s enough to change the policy.”

Up until now, if a traveler was waiting on results, they would quarantine until the results came in. In addition to the risk of flying while contagious, this created a backlog of quarantined travelers who needed their tests manually verified.

Mayor Derek Kawakami had been pushing for this change, even requesting earlier this week for a similar enforcement as a local emergency rule.

On Monday, Kawakami and his administration sent two proposals to the governor’s office as fill-ins to the Safe Travels system. The first rule requests a mandatory, 72-hour quarantine with a post-arrival test, and another rule would require the Safe Travel test results prior to flying into the county or face the two-week quarantine.

Kawakami and Ige spoke Wednesday, where the governor expressed support for the latter, which he made official in his Thursday announcement.

“As far as identifying some of the gaps in the Safe Travels system, I really am thankful the governor has decided to require that negative test result,” Kawakami said.

However, he’s waiting to see the details of the policy change before throwing his weight behind it. “It’s still a little premature to say if there’s actually going to be any teeth behind it, but it’s very promising.”

Kawakami is still pushing for a mandatory post-arrival test, preferably three days after arrival. His administration has not formally heard back on that proposed local rule.

“Health experts are saying that you should test as much as you can, and that’s why we felt a mandatory second test is critical,” Kawakami said.

Since Oct. 15, the Safe Travels program has screened over 273,020 people, with about 89% bypassing the quarantine with negative tests. The remaining 7,217 have quarantined, Lt. Gov. Josh Green reported Thursday.

The Safe Travels surveillance and evaluation program has caught 27 positive cases out of 17,270 tests, resulting in about 1.6 out of 1,000 people tested, Green said, noting that positive case counts are primarily due to less restrictions, not incoming travelers.

“It’s mostly us, but that’s because we are with one another at work, at play and so on,” Green said.

Kawakami said he hopes it never gets to the point where the county would need to opt-out of the Safe Travels program, as that would mark a devastating point in the pandemic.

But as travelers come in and open up the island to new potential exposures and risks, the messaging stays the same, Kawakami said.

“It’s about learning how to coexist with a virus, right? We’re not going to go to war against (a fight) we’ll lose,” he said. “You just have to know how to keep yourself safe and literally coexist with it without spreading it.”

And that’s what he’s been saying since the beginning by enforcing mask-wearing, urging increased handwashing and restricting gatherings. The idea of herd immunity, he said, “is not a strategy I would ever advocate for on Kaua‘i.”

“It wouldn’t be in line with our cultural values as far as taking care of our kupuna and taking care of those that need protection,” he said. “Our challenges are the same challenges everywhere else. For me as mayor, I’m very fortunate that we have a community that has been through adversity before because they already know how to come together.”

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

20 Comments
  1. I saw a Vampire once November 20, 2020 3:02 am Reply

    I thought the results were given within a few minutes or at least an hour within taking the COVID-19 test. And not wait days to receive it. This is referring to arrivals into Kaua’i.


  2. Steve November 20, 2020 5:24 am Reply

    Mayor Kawakami,

    The Governor and the Lt. Governor, said again yesterday in a press conference that the new cases in Hawaii are virtually all “community spread” and that traveler spread is of little impact.

    You know this to be completely untrue for Kaua’i. They have been given many opportunities to acknowledge this. But they are choosing not to say anything nor educate others that Kaua’i has virtually no community spread.

    For reasons of political expediency statewide, what they are choosing to do is inject Kaua’i with community spread.

    It is unethical, immoral, and as it is unnecessary, to me criminally negligent. We can not be complicit.

    These are strong words, but it is not unlike the sad history of travelers bringing infectious diseases to these islands, and then blaming the locals for the spread it among them.

    Except it is in several ways.

    1) We know more about infectious diseases.
    2) One of our state leaders is a doctor.
    3) We have proven measures (like quarantine and testing) to prevent the introduction of disease.

    and most distressingly,

    4) the state leaders are knowingly ignoring Kaua’i’s situation, for it goes against their message that “community spread” is already entrenched and avoidable throughout Hawaii – and thus focusing on travelers is a mistake.

    Opting out and reverting to a 14 day quarantine is not disastrous, it is bold, compassionate, necessary leadership. From there you can readjust to a sensible opening.

    Otherwise your citizens are sitting ducks, and you know it.

    Let us all know how to support you.


  3. Scott November 20, 2020 6:17 am Reply

    Please correct me if I am wrong but the way I read this is that you can still get on the airplane either positive or negative results! Why not just make it the only way to even step foot on the airplane is with a negative test!……


    1. John November 20, 2020 2:11 pm Reply

      “Why not just make it the only way to even step foot on the airplane is with a negative test!”

      Because Big Airlines, who have the most to lose from that plan, are the ones transferring $$$ into Ige’s offshore bank account.

      Welcome to Hawaii Politics 101


  4. goat November 20, 2020 6:25 am Reply

    a second test should be mandatory. i do not know why ige does not want to require a second test. the new cases are all a result of people either returning to kaua’i or visiting the island. had they chose not to test, they would never know they are positive and possibly spread the virus throughout the island.

    there will be some “tourists” or will be positive upon landing and not quarantine. yes, there are many of these individuals that will just run rampant on the island knowing they are positive and not care. although mask wearing helps, it is not 100% in preventing the spread of the virus.

    i agree with kawakami’s first proposal in requiring those either returning or visiting to quarantine a few days and then test again. there needs to be a second test upon landing after a quarantine, regardless of the price. the price will be higher if these weak restrictions continue. i doubt ige will agree, but he needs to grow a pair and help the states. i understand the economy needs to open but it should be done with better tougher restrictions. if the restrictions continue to stay loose, the end result will be worst that it is now. the island will struggle if cases become too high, and it has to “shut down” again. green and ige need to figure it out and make decisions that is not just based on the almighty dollars. lives are at stake.


    1. John November 20, 2020 2:08 pm Reply

      “i do not know why ige does not want to require a second test.”

      Because the airline executives who contribute “donations” to Ige’s offshore bank accounts are afraid that a second test would further reduce ticket sales to HI.

      The airlines have been leaning on Ige and Kawakami hard to discourage second testing and quarantine, and since they have more money than me and you, they win!


  5. Uncleaina November 20, 2020 6:25 am Reply

    So the test caught 27 positives and missed 44? That’s the implication. We absolutely need the second test with numbers like this.


  6. Joshua Beadle November 20, 2020 7:08 am Reply

    These changes are needed, because the Boyz running our Government are not thinking through the protocol. The “either / or” option allowed any tourists to game the system and prevented locals from being able to assist authorities in compliance.
    Real simple protocol: Negative test before you board an airplane (including Inter Isle) – then quarantine until local authorities come to your location and administer a CV test. Once that’s negative, travelers are free to roam.
    Real simple stuff folks.


  7. Logical? November 20, 2020 7:24 am Reply

    Somebody tell me if I got this right. If I get a Covid test 72 hours prior to arrival on Kauai and don’t have my test results I have to quarantine for 14 days regardless if the test results come in negative. When I get the results of the first negative test while on island, and then opt for the counties volunteer resident second test and that comes back negative, I still have to stay in quarantine. Please tell me I’m wrong because that not only makes no sense it is also costing money to to monitor a negative person. If this IS the case then I’m better off not getting a test and quarantining for 14 days as it will save ME money. Then if I do have COVID and don’t know it, I can travel around the island spreading the joys of COVID. Happy Holidays!


    1. Poi Dog November 23, 2020 12:31 am Reply

      You hit the nail on the head this does not make any sense at all a stupid rule like this is not helping anybody , it hurts the economy, cost money to enforce, and makes everyone look dumb. If more safety is needed, kawakami’s second test makes perfect sense


  8. Valerie November 20, 2020 8:04 am Reply

    “The first rule requests a mandatory, 72-hour quarantine with a post-arrival test.”

    We need this rule due to the incubation time period for COVID and considering the high virus rates currently on the mainland as well. It was disappointing to see we had 4 new cases reported in one day yesterday adding to our already high number of active cases.


  9. randy kansas November 20, 2020 11:36 am Reply

    how often are the county employees tested ? they are out and about working…maybe passing it around ? same for the workers at Safeway and Home Depot ?


  10. KauaiFarmMan November 20, 2020 7:34 pm Reply

    This is fear based hysteria. According to the CDC 51,000 deaths listed as Covid were in fact heart attacks! We have in Hawaii a14.3% unemployment rate , more then double of the national average of 6.7%. The highest in the country. How many people will die of cancer that could of been prevented by an early diagnosis? How many will commit suicide? How many will starve? This is a calculated sham. And you all can’t get enough! Freedom over security! This is a classic false flag operation and no one wants to observe the real data . Deaths are nominal. 99.9% survival rate for people under 70. The only thing to fear is the media and crooked politicians leading us down this path of societal and economic destruction. When the dust settles and we are all in poverty, you will look back and see how we’ve all been duped. Wake up people and stand up against this medical tyranny.


    1. What? November 21, 2020 7:57 am Reply

      WOW Someone who hasn’t swallowed gallons of Mainstream media Boobtube propaganda Koolaid and still has a thinking brain. Thank you


      1. Jake November 21, 2020 9:29 pm Reply

        Very refreshing. Couldn’t agree more.


  11. lizzy November 20, 2020 8:21 pm Reply

    Because we know so little about this virus there is fear.
    And yes i agree to a degree that there are big political power players that are driving the fear.
    But
    Facts are facts. The virus aint the flu and plenty plenty of people under 70 are dying from it and they arent dying from heart attacks.

    We need to be prudent, we need to be cautious. Its STUPID to let visitors in at this time it really is. Ii think we need to just do mandatory 14 day quarantine no matter what period end of story for everybody. Stop all these flights for 6 more months for G sake

    There will be a time for tourism. They are making a big mistake by allowing this to continue. Big one


  12. goat November 21, 2020 7:11 am Reply

    i understand there are politics involved, it makes no sense for ige, as he can’t run for another term. also, the airlines and hotel industries will suffer more when it becomes out of control. it is better to be partially open with tough restrictions than to be shut down, then they will lose even more money.

    i believe that southwest will be adding a route from long beach next year, which will add more travelers to the island. politicians need to stronger and not so timid. step up and not be afraid of being terminated or unpopular.


  13. LTEreader November 21, 2020 11:04 am Reply

    RE: KauaiFarmMan – “This is fear based hysteria. According to the CDC 51,000 deaths listed as Covid were in fact heart attacks!”

    That depends on your news source. YouTube? Twitter? One America News Network? Or perhaps you garnered this gem from a National Inquirer rag mag while waiting in a grocery store line up? Before you continue sharing fake news (again) why don’t you research Bradykinin Hypothesis, and Cytokine Storm Syndrome so that you might better understand how COVID-19 affects the bodies organs.

    FACT CHECK: “Does Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveal that COVID-19 death totals have been exaggerated by hospitals counting heart attacks as COVID deaths? No, that’s not true. Hospitals don’t fill out death certificates, doctors and/or medical examiners do. The claim relies on misinterpretation of death certificates. Death certificates record the sequence of events by which humans succumb to a disease: underlying cause of death is what leads to the crisis that kills. So a lethal heart attack brought on by COVID-19 is correctly counted as a COVID-19 death in the CDC tally.”


  14. steven November 21, 2020 11:45 am Reply

    Regarding Kawakami’s first proposal for a 72-hour post arrival quarantine, how many quarantine hotels are currently operationall? What is the average cost? How many rooms are required for a family of 4? I have seen one quarantine hotel online with no pool, no beach access. Can we get feedback from our Kauai guests who have gone through this process?

    On another topic, the current optional testing requries driving over an hour from some locations. Is there a mobile option in the future.


  15. KauaiFarmMan November 22, 2020 7:02 pm Reply

    RE: LTE Reader
    Thanks for your CNN WASHPOST FACT CHECK. I imagine you digest a healthy amount of mainstream media propaganda for your “facts”. My info on the other hand comes from the CDC’s own audit. Yes 51,000 hearts attacks listed as Covid. Do your own research and find countless homicides, car accidents , cancer deaths and so on have been converted to Covid deaths . Why you may ask. Hospitals are private businesses. The doctors that work there are incentivized to list deaths as Covid to receive the $39,000 per death provided as federal aid money. This is a business. Research the countless deaths from car accidents, homicides , heart attacks and every other common condition listed as Covid. Go look at the CDC website and you can find that anyone that tests positive for Covid and dies within 28 days are counted as a COVID-19 death. Now look at the deaths state to state year to year and you will find less people or the same amount are dying now then previous years. Every common cause of death has been converted to Covid to keep up the hysteria and keep that money flowing. Countless virologists and doctors have spoke out of this sham and are being censored by big tech and mainstream media. And yes 99.9% survival rate. Facts are not facts Lizzy. This is not deadly enough to warrant a shut down of civilization. The repercussions will last generations and many more will die from dire economic conditions and starvation. Homicides are up 28% nationwide. That’s true! This is a sham. And all you sheep hate freedom and love fear. When Kauai is fully gentrified in 5 years , you’ll all be happy in Vegas. Much more affordable and dryer. Mainland money is quickly buying up the island. The plandemic has gone great and you will all continue to hide from this false flag.
    Keep watching CNN and hiding in your homes with your slave masks on. Medical Tyranny is here is full effect. Problem, Solution, government take over . This is a medical 911. A fully orchestrated hoax. Yes the virus is real but so is propaganda. All you pseudo intellectuals can get your heads out of the sand and come up
    For air. Try breathing, it’s feels so free.


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