Mayors want inter-island travelers tested after arrival, but admit there aren’t enough tests

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Even with tourism set to reopen for mainland travelers in October, no changes are likely with inter-island travel. Mayors say they also want inter-island passengers to get tested, but acknowledge there are not enough tests available in Hawaii.

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The governor has asked the mayors of the four counties to come up with an alternative to the 14-day quarantine for inter-island travelers from Oahu. But they do not see a safer alternative until Hawaii can drastically increase its testing capacity.

“It looks like at this point no, the inter-island requirement of 14-day quarantine will carry through October, but I’m hoping I’m wrong,” said Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim.

He says the best way to keep the COVID infection rate down is to test mainland visitors 72 hours after they arrive. As for residents, he says they should get tested either before departure or upon arrival.

“What is being discussed is for a test upon arrival within a certain time. Obviously, that drains from the amount of testing kits available here,” said Kim.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he is willing to agree with what the other three mayors put together. With most of the cases on Oahu, he says the other counties are more at risk but also admits that additional testing is not possible.

“It could max out our testing capacity and that creates other issues because we want to keep testing for those who come into close contact, those who have symptoms,” said Caldwell.

He says there are plans in place to increase testing capacity on Oahu. It includes setting up a testing lab at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and purchasing a mobile lab that can be set up anywhere on the island.

“This will be a lab that’s in a container looks like a Matson sized container. It will have a lab inside, it will come with testing components and lab staff and they could do up to 100,000 tests a year,” he said.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami says he has asked the governor to approve a plan to test all travelers to Kauai no sooner than 72 hours after arrival. Maui Mayor Mike Victorino says the County is still working on a plan and will announce details this week.

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