(BIVN) – Governor David Ige and his pandemic response leadership team held a news conference in the former Interisland Terminal of the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu on Wednesday, to provide details on the State’s COVID-19 pre-travel testing program, which starts on Oct. 15, 2020.
The State officials introduced the “trusted testing partners” who can provide the certified Nucleic Acid Amplification Test that will allow travelers to Hawaiʻi – who test negative – to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The governor did acknowledge that the inter-island quarantine is still in place, and contrary to various media reports, he “was not informed” that the Big Island was opting out of the pre-travel testing program. “I continue to talk with the [Mayor Harry Kim] to find ways that we can improve the program.”
The importance of the program for the tourism industry was illustrated by the new president and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, John De Fries. “A tremendous amount of work is going in bringing back employees who were furloughed back in March, who are looking forward to returning to their jobs,” De Fries said. “And upon returning, they’re going to learn one really important thing: that the job they had in March is not completely the same job they have today. There is a whole new echelon of responsibility that will come with every one of these jobs. And it has to do with hygiene, sanitation, sterilization, at standards that heretofore were reserved for clinics and hospitals.”
“All in the name of keeping my co-workers safe,” De Fries said, “of keeping my work environment safe, so that I can prepare to receive the visitor who, in turn, must exhibit a level of responsibility and sensitivity toward our people as they come here and enjoy their vacations in the islands.”
From the office of Governor Ige:
While the state does not expect an immediate flood of travelers, it’s using Oct. 15 as a deadline to bring testing and contact tracing capabilities to the highest levels of readiness and effectiveness achieved so far. Many of the partners that are involved with the pre-travel testing program – government, airlines, hospitality industry and businesses – are also using this start date as a deadline to ensure all safety measures, operations and information for residents and visitors are ready.
Gov. Ige emphasized that protecting public health and bringing the coronavirus under control is crucial to reviving the economy and strengthening Hawaiʻi’s community. He said this would require unprecedented levels of collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as state and county governments.
“The health of our community remains our primary focus, and I want the people of Hawaiʻi to have confidence that the state is acting with their health and well-being in mind,” said Gov. Ige. “The pre-travel testing program will add an additional layer of protection for Hawaiʻi when combined with our Safe Travels mandatory online health questionnaire, airport temperature screening, improved contact tracing and the many other safety protocols we have in place.”
Hawaiʻi’s pre-travel testing program requires passengers five and older to take a Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) from a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified laboratory within 72 hours from the final leg of departure and produce a negative result in order to avoid the state’s 14-day mandatory quarantine. A trained professional must observe all tests. Only test results from trusted testing partners approved by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health will be accepted.
The State introduced the following “trusted testing partners”:
- AFC Urgent Care
- Carbon Health
- CityHealth Urgent Care
- CVS Health
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Kaiser Permanente (members only)
- Quest Diagnostics
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
- Vault Health
“The pandemic demands that we remain flexible and open minded to new advances in screening tools and methods to further decrease the spread of the virus,” said Green, who was tasked by Gov. Ige to spearhead the pre-travel testing effort. “We are doing all that we can to make the pre-travel testing program successful and we’ll make needed adjustments along the way. I appreciate the incredible work of the partners involved in this process, and special thanks to the people of Hawaiʻi who have shown their aloha, patience and resilience throughout this challenging time.”
“There are many moving parts to our COVID-19 response. Disease mitigation, testing and the airport arrival process are three areas we’re focused on to make sure our operations work smoothly on Oct. 15,” said Major General Kenneth Hara, COVID-19 Incident Commander. “We anticipate travelers to our state to build over time, so we’re prepared to grow our operational capacity for contact tracing as the need for it grows.”