Kauai sees low percentage of mainland visitors participating in post-arrival testing

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Post-arrival COVID-19 testing has been taking place at state and county levels for the past two weeks. KHON2 learned more about who is getting tested.

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We asked Lieutenant Governor Josh Green if the state is getting a good sample of travelers to participate in the post-arrival testing study. He said that they’re getting a really good sample on the Big Island and a modest amount elsewhere, but says they’re ramping it up.

As of Saturday, Oct. 31, six out of about 9,500 post-arrival tests were positive.

“It’s probable that we’re not going to be able to get, you know, 10% to 20% of the people to always say yes because they have something at stake,” said Lt. Gov. Green. “What I do believe is we’re going to get a lot more returning residents testing. And that’s actually fine because returning residents do pose the greatest risk of spreads long term because we’re back in the mix with our people.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said that of the 9,500 tests that have been reported, it’s their understanding that the bulk of them was done on the Big Island immediately upon arrival.

“This is contrary to how the surveillance program was originally intended, which was a 10% sample of arriving passengers four days after arrival. We look forward to receiving the full breakdown of these test results.”

Lt. Gov. Green says that he’ll have data and plans to give us more updates on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Separate from the state’s testing program, Kauai County is urging more travelers to participate in its voluntary post-travel test. The county reported that the arrivals between October 15 and 26, about 20% of eligible returning Kauai residents, took the second test while only 2% of visitors participated.

Part of the reason, we’re told, is because getting a COVID test is not a priority while on vacation.

“And it’s not as convenient as we would like. There’s only one location currently where it’s available, and there also is a cost for it,” said Kauai District Health officer Dr. Janet Berreman.

Dr. Berreman says there are ways to change that and hopes more people will get tested because the secondary tests offer an extra layer of protection.

“One hundred percent of the cases that we currently have on Hawaii are related either directly or indirectly to mainland travel,” she said.

Over on the Big Island, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim will decide if the county’s post-arrival testing program should be modified.

“That part of the 10% is part of the discussion, should we test 10% of those in a program or 10% of the whole, which means all incoming,” said Mayor Kim. “We all agree that we would like to continue to establish a database on what’s happening.”

Mayor Kim told KHON2 that he will make a final decision on Monday, Nov. 2.

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