KAPA‘A — Sunday marked the final free COVID-19 surge testing program held at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex to an audience of pre-registered testers that was smaller than previous testing days.
Mayor Derek Kawakami announced in November the county’s intention to host the testing program with the state Department of Health, aimed at those involved with the visitor industry. Uninsured residents were also welcomed to participate.
The effort was well-received by residents who flocked to tests held at the three sites that rotated each week, starting Nov. 8 at Vidinha Stadium in Lihu‘e and supported by the Kaua‘i Fire Department and county Department of Parks and Recreation.
Test results of these free self tests done with the help of contract workers are not part of the state’s pre-travel testing program and are not eligible for quarantine exemptions.
Dr. Janet Berreman of the DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office indicated that “just a few” cases of COVID-19 emerged from the hundreds of tests administered over the eight weeks of the program.
She indicated that despite the number of visitors coming into the island being limited due to the mayor’s latest rule opting out of the state’s Safe Travels program, there is a need for accessible testing, and the Kaua‘i District Health Office is working with government leaders who will provide an update on testing and the battle against the novel coronavirus in the near future.
On Dec. 23, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority reported 55 people arrived at Lihu‘e Airport. This compares to the 12,725 people coming into the state, with 7,168 deplaning in Honolulu and 3,646 landing on Maui.
The state reported 106 new cases Sunday, with one new case being reported on Kaua‘i.
Kawakami, in his Dec. 23 update, stated that 36 people on the island are in health-directed quarantine as close contacts of those testing positive.
“Our cumulative case count is now 161, including 140 confirmed locally, one probable, and 20 tested elsewhere but reported after arrival on island,” Kawakami said. “All this week, Kaua‘i police and the Hawai‘i National Guard have been tracking nearly 2,000 people in travel-related quarantine.”
Kawakami said the holidays are often a time when people gather to celebrate, but with the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19, celebrations should be kept small and good safety measures, including the wearing of face masks and social distancing, should be practiced.
Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.