Neighbor island mayors say more details needed before pre-testing program begins

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The inter-island quarantine remains in effect through Sept. 30, just two weeks before the pre-travel testing program is set to begin.

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Hawaii Island Mayor Harry Kim said he learned of the definitive Oct. 15 date through the press conference held on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

He said the mayors were on a teleconference with Governor Ige before the press conference was held.

“He discussed with the mayors in regards to the possibility of looking into it,” Mayor Kim said. “I stress looking into it, by Oct. 15.”

“We find out through the press conference it in fact will go as October 15 and that, you know, that’s not much time for us to express all of the concerns,” Mayor Kim continued.

He said mayors need time to discuss the new responsibilities and to figure out if more staff and equipment is needed at the airport.

“Is the test still good? How long is it good for? Should they be re-tested? How will they be identified? All of these things need to be worked out or else you’re going to have a pile-up at the airport and you’re going to have a lot of angry passengers and they have a right to be angry,” Kim explained about not having a solidified plan in place before the program rolls out in four weeks.

“All those things need to be addressed before this policy is established,” he said.

Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami also said there is a lot to do before Oct. 15, like figuring out how the airport determines who took a test, who is waiting on a result and needs to quarantine, or those who opted not to take a test and need to do a full 14-day quarantine.

“The October 15 date, at least it gives us more time to work with the state and really figure out the logistics and the roles and responsibilities of every department,” Kawakami explained.

He said he would be open for another round of testing to ensure the health and safety of the people on Kauai. “Now, whether or not that’s actually achievable is another question.”

Kawakami did say he would like to see the pre-travel program tested with residents first.

“Our thoughts are, hey, let’s kick it off for our local residents. Let’s see if we can get a testing policy similar to what’s going to be kicked off on October 15 for our local people, have them do sort of like a soft, grand opening of this whole concept,” explained Mayor Kawakami. “And we can work out the glitches on a smaller scale versus just, you know, kind of trying to figure it out on October 15.”

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell also said he would like to test the program with residents first, but has concerns about testing capabilities.

“One concern I have as Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu is our capacity to test,” he said during a press conference on Sept. 17. “We know thousands and thousands of people travel between the islands and if Oahu folks go in large numbers and they pre-test it will impact our capability to test those who should really get a test, those who are symptomatic or came in contact with a positive case.”

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said he is glad there is a definitive date, but thinks another round of testing is needed if traveling to the smaller islands in Maui County.

“Especially Lana’i, which had zero cases, a second round of testing will be applicable, I would like to see that happen,” he said.

There is no word yet on if the inter-island quarantine will be lifted or extended past Sept. 30.

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