LIHU‘E — Gov. David Ige has pushed back Hawai‘i’s pre-travel testing program to Oct. 15, and announced a new leadership team to realign the state’s COVID-19 efforts.
Pre-travel testing will allow those entering the state to avoid the current state-mandated 14-day quarantine if they provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival, effectively reopening the economy.
The test may be no earlier than three days before the flight arrives with an FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), performed using a nasal swab. Arrivals can show proof of negative test results from a CLIA certified laboratory. This is in addition to temperature checks and mandatory travel and health forms.
The interisland quarantine for anyone arriving on any island other than O‘ahu continues through Oct. 15, unless terminated or extended by a separate emergency proclamation.
The state is currently partnered with CVS and Kaiser Permanente for the tests.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green will oversee the pre-travel testing program, Ige announced. Part of Green’s duties includes adding additional testing partners and sourcing new testing options. Green is also responsible for planning the state’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy.
“Mass testing, contact tracing and pre-travel testing programs are key measures I’ve long-supported,” Green said in a statement. “Their implementation, along with a vaccination plan for when they become available, will be critical to our success in managing the coronavirus.”
Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency Director Maj. Gen. Ken Hara will continue his role as incident commander, working across federal, state and county resources. And, Department of Health Director Dr. Libby Char will lead the management of the state’s public health programs and collaboration between state, county, and private healthcare partners.
Former DOH director Dr. Viginia Presseler will lead Laulima Alliance, a team of public and private sector resources focusing on pandemic related policy and programs.
“Together with the progress, we’ve made, and continue to make, in the fight against COVID-19, this new leadership team gives us confidence that the time is right to launch our pre-travel COVID-19 testing program, which is an important step toward reviving our economy while continuing to protect public health,” Ige said.
Following the announcement, Hawaiian Airlines, the state’s largest airline carrier, issued a statement welcoming the reopening of the economy.
“It is another important safety layer that strengthens the comprehensive protocols Hawaiian Airlines and our visitor industry partners have adopted in recent months to protect our employees, guests and community. With these measures in place, it is time to begin to reopen our economy.”
Last month, Peter Ingram, Hawaiian Airlines president and CEO, announced furlough notices and company reductions, clearing the workforce by 816 jobs, with 341 of the furloughs involuntary among flight attendants. Hawaiian also had plans to reduce pilot staffing by 173, with 101 of those reductions involuntary.
3 deaths, 102 new cases
Wednesday, the State Department of Health officials reported three coronavirus-related deaths and 102 new infections statewide.
This brings the state to 103 fatalities and 10,946 cases statewide reported since the end of February. Included in this total are four new cases on Hawai‘i Island, 97 on O‘ahu, and one case was diagnosed out of state. The state’s Department of Public Safety recorded two new cases.
Kaua‘i currently has no active cases on the island, but five individuals area in quarantine due to their contact with an O‘ahu case, according to the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency.
Mayor Derek Kawakami said the Kaua‘i Police Department is currently monitoring about 2,000 travelers in mandatory quarantine, the majority being residents who have returned home.
Source: The Garden Island