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Kauaʻi Temporarily Opts Out of Safe Travels Program; Maui County Continues with State Testing Program

Travelers arrive for check in at Kahului Airport

Travelers arriving from Los Angeles stand in line to be processed through the new Safe Travels Program. File Photo by Cammy Clark

Kaua‘i Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami’s request to place a temporary moratorium on Kaua‘i’s participation in the state’s pre-travel testing program has been approved by Gov. David Ige.

Effective Dec. 2, at 12:01 a.m., all transpacific and inter-county travelers arriving in Kaua‘i are subject to the 14-day quarantine regardless of testing.

“The unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kaua‘i are of significant concern for the Garden Isle,” Ige said in a news release. “We must protect Kaua‘i residents and visitors and ensure that Kaua‘i’s hospitals do not become overwhelmed. Kaua‘i county currently has the fewest number of ICU beds in the state, and private providers are seeking ways to increase capacity. This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kaua‘i.”

On Friday, Managing Director Sandy Baz reiterated what Mayor Michael Victorino said on Wednesday. Maui County will continue to participate in Hawaiʻi’s Safe Travels Program, which allows transpacific travelers to skip the 14-day quarantine if they depart for the island with a negative COVID-19 approved test from a trusted partner. (The state mandated that beginning Nov. 24 travelers are required to have a negative test result before boarding a plane to Hawaiʻi.)

“Kauaʻi is a very different community than Maui,” Baz said. “They have less hospital beds and less support. … We do not feel that we are at the need to actually opt out of the testing program. We are still monitoring this on a regular basis. We meet with our team, with our individuals who really provide us with great information to analyze and what decision to move forward with.”

Since the Save Travels Program began Oct. 15, Maui has had 143 confirmed COVID-19 cases for an average of 3.25 per day. This is up from the 1.6 cases per day that Maui averaged in the two weeks priors to the launch of the state testing program. However, in the last week, Maui has had 54 confirmed COVID-19 cases for a 7.7 per day average. (These numbers do not include the 105-case cluster on Lanaiʻi.)

Since the Safe Travels Program was launched on Oct. 15, Kauaʻi has had 52 confirmed COVID-19 cases for an average of 1.2 per day. It did not have a single confirmed case for the two weeks leading up to the launch.

The County of Kaua‘i’s modified quarantine program will remain in place for critical infrastructure workers, essential medical travel, or other special circumstances. To apply for a modified quarantine, visit www.kauai.gov/COVID-19 and click on the “modified quarantine request” button at the top of the page.

“I’d like to thank Gov. Ige for approving Emergency Rule 23, temporarily pausing Kaua‘i’s participation in the state’s pre-travel testing program,” Kawakami said. “Given the national surge of COVID cases on the mainland, Kaua‘i is unable to adequately protect itself by utilizing the Safe Travels program at this time.

“Our travel-related cases are now leading to community spread across our island. This temporary pause in travel will allow us to remain in Tier 4 as long as possible, keeping youth sports playing and businesses open as we conduct surge testing and contact tracing. I will gladly repeal the moratorium once we have the virus under control again.”

The pre-travel testing program remains in place for all other counties. Rule 23 will be posted at www.kauai.gov/COVID-19.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2020/11/28/kaua%ca%bbi-opts-out-of-safe-travels-program-maui-county-continues-with-state-testing-program/

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