Governor Ige considers pre-travel test program for inter-island flights

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Even with more restrictions in place, Governor David Ige said that Hawaii still needs to improve the COVID-19 situation.

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“We are clearly not where we want to be, but we are making significant progress,” Gov. Ige said in a one-on-one interview with KHON2.

The governor said he never expected that Oahu would need a second stay-at-home order.

“You could see people starting to relax, and baby luaus in the parks and on the beaches,” Gov. Ige said about the increasing gatherings he began to see in July.

Although the state anticipated seeing a surge in coronavirus cases after reopening from the first stay-at-home order, Gov. Ige said they did not expect the situation to get as bad as it did, as fast as it did.

“We didn’t anticipate how quickly the number of new cases would exponentially expand, and get to the point of overwhelming our healthcare system,” he explained.

Gov. Ige admitted that the state was not as prepared to handle the huge surge in cases as it should have been.

“Clearly, that rapid increase in the number of cases, we didn’t have the resources in the right places that we needed to,” Gov. Ige stated.

Gov. Ige said the trend is starting to go down, so he is hopeful.

Currently, the state is preparing to launch the pre-travel test program to bring back mainland visitors on October 15.

In order to avoid future spikes of COVID cases, Gov. Ige said he plans on significantly increasing testing in the islands.

“If we had an accurate test that’s very inexpensive, that we can broadly test people and get a result back very quickly, that changes the game for us,” Gov. Ige said. “We can definitely then consider testing visitors upon arrival. We can test more regularly in our public schools.”

The goal is to get hundreds of thousands of fast, affordable tests per week before the end of the year.

The governor also said he is considering requiring a pre-inter-island travel COVID test.

“In the in the ideal world, the case count on Oahu would drop to the level where it’s the same on Oahu as it is on the neighbor islands, and then there wouldn’t be a reason to have the inter Island quarantine in place,” Gov. Ige said.

Gov. Ige added that no decision was made on what he will do with the inter-island travel quarantine.

The governor said that lifting it all together is still on the table, but he is talking with the county mayors about implementing a pre-travel test program for inter-island flights as well.

If a pre-travel test program is implemented for inter-island travel, anyone who wants to travel to the neighboring islands would need to test negative for COVID-19 in order to avoid quarantine.

To avoid closing businesses and implementing another stay-at-home order, the governor said that everyone in the community needs to do their part as well.

“What I’m hoping is that everybody recognizes that we have to live differently with COVID-19,” Gov. Ige said about this new normal.

Gov. Ige said that means people need to start changing their mindset. If you feel the slightest bit sick, stay home.

“We all have to take personal responsibility and change what we do and how we interact because that’s the only way to manage and contain the virus,” Gov. Ige said. “The better we can do that, the quicker we can revive the economy.”

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