Hawaii airports to up screening systems for COVID as Senate Committee sets aside $90 million

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Senate Ways and Means Committee has appropriated $90 million for systems at Hawaii airports to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This was announced on Friday, June 26.

Officials say that the money will be used for thermal screening systems, security protocols, web-based verification applications, traveler verification rooms, swab and testing facilities, and a service contract for ramping up testing.

“This investment in airport screening protocols will help us reopen tourism in the safest possible manner, screening all travelers and verifying their pre-testing information,” said Chair Sylvia Luke. “Because the U.S. Senate has not passed the HEROES Act, we are substituting federal funding from the existing CARES Act in order to move forward with this critical priority.”

[RELATED: Gov. extends COVID-19 emergency period; quarantine changes made for travel around, into Hawaii]

The systems will be installed in the five major airports: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, Kahului Airport, Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole, Hilo International Airport, and Lihue Airport.

Thermal screening cameras will be installed at all the gates to screen passengers for elevated temperatures (above 100.4 degrees) as they disembark from the aircraft. A facial imaging tracking system and monitoring control rooms will be installed throughout the terminal to track a suspected passenger until they are intercepted for further screening.

[RELATED: Attorneys say plans to use facial recognition technology at airport do not violate privacy laws]

The total cost is $18.5 million, with an additional $17.5 million for a 10-year maintenance program.

Verification rooms will be constructed to verify arriving passenger information during their stay in the State ($5 million), and a web-based application will be developed for the departing passenger health form and arriving passenger verification information ($4 million). An additional $23 million will be appropriated for labor.

[RELATED: State set to open tourism Aug. 1, urging visitors to get tested before departure]

Facilities will be built to perform the swabbing and testing of suspected COVID-19 passengers for $5 million. A total of $17 million will be available for service contracts for the maintenance of the thermal screening cameras and facial imaging tracking system, labor to operate the monitoring control and verification rooms, and health professionals to perform the swabbing and testing of passengers.

[RELATED: Mandatory inter-island travel and health form available]

The measure being proposed will allow the state to reopen for all travel (interisland, domestic, and international), benefiting all residents, businesses, and the tourism industry, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19 at the five major airports.


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