LIHUE, Hawaii (KHON2) — Since travel restrictions eased in mid-October, Kauai has reported 30 new COVID-19 cases. The county also noticed that some people travel with pending results and later learn they have tested positive after arrival.
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Kauai District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman tells us out of the 30 cases, eight of them are people whose pre-travel test was positive but they did not get their results until they arrived in Kauai.
“That’s a significant contribution to what’s going on on our island. So we wanted to report them,” said Dr. Berreman.
You can see on the county website, there is now a separate category for cases diagnosed out-of-state or off-island. While the state does count residents diagnosed outside of Hawaii, non-residents diagnosed elsewhere — but arrive in our islands — are not counted as of Nov. 15.
The Department of Health (DOH) said in a statement:
“At this time, DOH is reporting aggregate data on lab results for travelers who are residents, and reporting data on non-residents who are tested in Hawaii. Those individuals are included in the daily count of positive cases. DOH is working on providing data on non-residents who are tested out of state and arrive in Hawaii, and plans to report on this once we have a workable and sustainable system in place. Because the laboratory information on visitors who are tested out-of-state and receive a positive result after arriving in Hawaii is not consistently reported to the DOH, we have been unable to compile this data and it is not currently reflected in our daily statewide positive case counts. This is an issue we are aware of and we are working on a way to accurately capture this data.”Hawaii State Department of Health
“Because if you’re tested in California, and the health department there learns the positive results but you are just going on vacation to Hawaii, the health department in California can’t know that. So they wouldn’t know to tell us,” Dr. Berreman said.
Dr. Berreman says it is a challenging category to measure consistently, but thinks it is important to count the ones they know about. These cases will also impact Kauai’s Tier system.
“Regardless of where the test was, that person here has all the same impact as somebody who never left here. They impact potentially the health care system, the public health system,” she said
In his COVID update video on Nov. 13, Mayor Derek Kawakami said improvements must be made.
“One of the items we’re requesting from the state is to require Safe Travel participants to receive their pre-travel results prior to travel, this to address the issues who took a pre-travel test but did not receive their positive results until after arrival,” said the Mayor.
“And it would also do more to keep down the introduction of disease, which is of course, the bottom line that we’re hoping to achieve here,” said Dr. Bereman.
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