HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii Governor David Ige announced on Sept. 16 that the state will begin its trans-Pacific pre-travel testing program on Oct. 15.
“There is no specific data that we’re looking at,” said Gov. Ige when asked how the decision was made on the program’s start date.
Instead, he said that when the state decided on the start date, it had been looking at the virus activity in Hawaii, its healthcare capacity, the utilization of the ICU units and other measures in the state’s healthcare system.
“The pre-travel program does provide an added layer of security for those coming into the islands,” he said.
During the briefing, Lieutenant Governor Dr. Josh Green, who will spearhead the program, further discussed how the program will work.
All arriving passengers will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine order after taking a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours in advance of their travel to Hawaii.
Passengers will have to provide an FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), performed using a nasal swab, and can show proof of negative test results from a CLIA certified laboratory.
When travelers arrive in the state, they will have their temperatures checked and they will have to fill out a travel and health form.
If their test results aren’t available by the time of their arrival, they will have to quarantine until the results come back.
Lt. Gov. Green added that this will apply to all arriving passengers. These people will also be responsible for paying for their own COVID test.
As of now, commercial testing will not be provided at the airport.
The inter-island quarantine for anyone arriving on any island other than Oahu will continue through Sept. 30 unless it is terminated or extended by a separate emergency proclamation.
To help keep travelers informed about the state’s current conditions, the governor said that the state is working with its travel partners to ensure this.
Lt. Gov. Green also announced that the state is developing a strategy to administer a vaccine to the community. The vaccine will not be mandatory, he assured. But since it’s still in the works, he didn’t delve into the topic.
Aside from the program, state officials continued to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state, such as their top three priorities.
New leadership was also introduced, such as the state’s new Department of Health director, Dr. Libby Char.
She will be responsible for the management of the state’s public health programs and the collaboration between state, county and private healthcare partners.
Major General Kenneth Hara, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency director, will continue to lead the collaboration between federal, state and county resources to address the pandemic response.
The Laulima Alliance, which is a cross-functional team of public and private sector resources, will be led by the state’s former DOH director Dr. Virginia Pressler.
The purpose of the Laulima Alliance is to ensure that “all have a voice in policymaking and implementation of programs responding to the pandemic.”
“This new leadership team gives us a stronger operational structure, stronger leadership, and clears the way for stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors,” said Gov. Ige.