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County has same-day virus test kits

LIHU‘E — The County of Kaua‘i has secured 15,000 rapid, same-day COVID-19 tests to implement a second-test program for trans-Pacific and interisland travelers when the state reopens to visitors Oct. 15.

However, the county is still awaiting approval for this program from the state.

On Sept. 24, the county asked for Gov. David Ige’s approval to require travelers to take a rapid COVID-19 test “no sooner than 72 hours after arrival.”

The state will allow mainland travelers to avoid the 14-day quarantine by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival, beginning Oct. 15. This plan neglects interisland travelers, and does not allow those residents or visitors to shorten or avoid the two-week quarantine, which Mayor Derek Kawakami said appears to “prioritize our visitors first.”

“We are not convinced that this program will provide enough protection given Kaua‘i’s unique health capacity needs,”Kawakami said Friday.

The county has a “limited medical capacity,” Kawakami said, which includes just nine intensive-care-unit beds. Often, medical needs need to be met by utilizing neighbor island facilities.

The county’s plan puts travelers, residents and tourists on the same field by offering the rapid test on Kaua‘i.

“Upon a negative test result, these travelers would be released from quarantine,” he said.

Kawakami said that since the county bought these tests outright, it will not take away testing from local capacity.

“The County of Kaua‘i is committed to ensuring the adequate rapid-testing capacity is in place for the first few weeks of the program, to get it up and running,” he said. “But we anticipate that this additional requirement will open a new market on Kaua‘i for rapid-testing mechanisms.”

The county still has two active cases, with a cumulative case count of 59.

The Kaua‘i Police Department is monitoring about 1,800 people, most being residents who traveled off-island.

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

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