Lanai records first COVID-19 cases as counties look to improve pre-travel testing program

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Health officials have confirmed the first cases of COVID-19 on Lanai. So far, four residents have tested positive on the island.

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Rep. Lynn DeCoite, who represents Lanai, said one of the COVID-19 cases confirmed on Lanai is travel-related. She said the other three cases are still under investigation.

“They’re trying to make sure the contact tracing part of it is done properly so there’s no mis-confusion,” said DeCoite.

“It’s very sad. [Lanai has] remained COVID-19 free for this long, but we continue to work with Lanai, and we’ll make sure that they do have the necessary measures in place.”

Rep. Lynn DeCoite, (D) Lanai, Molokai

Maui County just recently opened up travel between Lanai, Molokai and Maui.

However, inter-county travel to Maui and Kauai still requires a pre-arrival test to skip quarantine. Hawaii County will also allow inter-island travelers to skip quarantine by taking a pre-arrival test or a post-arrival test starting after midnight on Oct. 21.

The pre-travel testing program is what counties are hoping keeps the virus out, but some residents are having problems with it.

Kauai County tells KHON2 that residents have reported issues with travelers having to quarantine because their test results were not returned in time, and some travelers have reported that they have had to quarantine because they did not take the pre-arrival test with a trusted partner.

There are currently eight testing partners statewide, which can be found on the state’s website. These include Urgent Care Hawaii, Walgreens, CVS Health (Longs Drugs) and Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii.

Maui Mayor Victorino said there is talk to add more.

“The neighbor islands are taking a real stringent approach on it, and we hope as things move on and we get the system down and more partners come online, that travel would become much more convenient for all,” said Maui County Mayor Mike Victorino.

Counties are not just being careful with inter-island travel, but with transpacific travel as well.

Hawaii County, which has implemented a second PCR test for travelers on arrival, has recorded some false positives in this second test.

“We had ten positives, and nine out those ten turned out to be what we call false positives,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich with Premier Medical Group, which is handling post-arrival testing.

He said ten out of about 3,600 transpacific visitors that came into the island were flagged. One person’s test is pending. Nine of them were eventually cleared from quarantine after follow-up testing showed they did not have the virus.

“[The PCR tests that were positive] were then tested with the gold star PCR nasal [tests], and they came back in 24 hours and they were negative,” said Miscovich.

After analyzing data from the first few days of the transpacific pre-travel testing program, Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said they found that many people took the COVID-19 pre-arrival test the same day that they traveled to Hawaii.

He said medical experts have advised giving a post-test three to four days after arrival for the best results, which is why he is thinking about changing post-testing for arrivals.

“We’re trying to work with resorts to find out which resorts may be able to provide a central testing site, and any of the options too. So, we can change what we’re doing now if it’s not working.”

Harry Kim, Hawaii County Mayor

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