Lawmakers still asking who is in charge of monitoring people in quarantine


HONOLULU (KHON2) — There have been about 60,000 travelers who have entered the state since Hawaii reopened to trans-Pacific travelers on Thursday, Oct. 15.

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Lieutenant Governor Josh Green said 7,293 people ended up in quarantine. He said that the number reflects those who did not take a test, had the wrong test, or arrived and was awaiting their test result.

Many travelers expressed their frustrations waiting for their test results to be manually approved by the state.

“We’re working through those manually; we’re catching up now. So, it’s bumpy, it’s not perfect, but the goal is to restore the economy with hope, and to do it safely.” Lt. Gov. Green said.

Lt. Gov. Green said that for every two arriving visitors, there is one returning resident.

On Friday, he said that 39,194 visitors arrived in the state, and 19,417 residents returned home.

The first few days of reopening the state averaged about 8,000 arrivals per day. In the last four days, the state averaged about 5,000.

Many opted out of the pre-test all together. Hotels can be a line of defense for visitors who are required to quarantine but there has been a large number of returning residents coming home without a test, and there is still confusion over who is in charge of monitoring them.

Several agencies are involved in the process, including the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the Attorney General’s office, county and state law enforcement, the Department of Transportation and Enterprise Technology Services, who created the safe travel software program.

“There is no one overseeing the entire process of quarantine,” explained Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, who is the Chair of the Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 “It’s almost being left up to chance, and that’s been a concern of the senate committee from the get-go.”

Sen. Dela Cruz was told that residents in quarantine have to check-in daily on the Safe Travels software, can be called randomly and that the Attorney General’s office can conduct random checks.

“We don’t have a good system of making sure that people are actually being in quarantine. We’re asking neighbors to hopefully even participate and call law enforcement, but people don’t know who to call,” Sen. Dela Cruz continued.

He said that the most successful group to date has been the Hawaii Quarantine Kapu Breakers.

“Except they have no enforcement powers, they have no resources. So, they’re all doing it voluntarily,” he said.

He said Governor David Ige needs to name a person in charge of the entire quarantine process.

“That way we can coordinate and organize all the different departments and actually be able to enforce the quarantine,” he continued.

He said that he believes the Attorney General’s Office should take the lead and make sure the process is implemented correctly.

“She may not have all the resources, so she may need some COVID funds. They have very limited number of investigators,” Sen. Dela Cruz explained. “But they’ve been trying to do their best with the limited staff that they have.”

He said more coordination is needed between the city and the state.

“We just need someone who is going to own the entire process of keeping people in quarantine, who are supposed to be in quarantine,” Dela Cruz added. “People tend to say, this is my responsibility and that’s what I’m going to focus on. I don’t know about the rest, and that’s not something that we can have right now.”

City spokesman Alexander Zannes said in an e-mail:

“The City and County of Honolulu is working with the Hotel industry, and the Honolulu Police Department to monitor visitors who are in quarantine. For those residents who are in quarantine, HPD has access to the State’s database, and is able to enforce as necessary when called upon. Mayor Caldwell is also looking to provided post arrival testing at the airport, so that more people who might not have had the opportunity to take a pre-arrival test, would be able to avoid a 14-day quarantine. This would need to be approved by the Governor.”

Sen. Dela Cruz said that the senate committee on COVID-19 hopes to have a follow-up meeting with all agencies involved in the coming weeks so they can implement a quarantine system.

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