(BIVN) – Mayor Harry Kim announced on Friday that the Big Island will scale-back on the number of travelers who will be required to undergo a secondary, County-administered COVID-19 test upon arrival to Hawaiʻi island.
Now, only up to twenty-five percent (25%) of arriving passengers participating in the State pre-test program will be given the post-arrival test.
“We’re testing 25% of passengers instead, and we believe we’ll still get a picture of how much spread of COVID-19 there is among incoming passengers,” Mayor Kim said, after signing Amendment No. 3 to the COVID-19 Emergency Rule No. 12.
Mayor Kim said in a news release that the “financial and logistical costs of testing, and the lack of adequate space made testing all passengers in the State pre-test program unsustainable.”
“The importance of this testing is unchanged. The goal is to secure funding and go back to full testing of everyone under the State pre-test program,” Mayor Kim said.
The cost of the post-arrival test is covered by Hawai‘i County via Federal CARES Act funding.
After the State of Hawaiʻi initiated a pre-travel testing program in October, allowing travelers to bypass the mandatory 14-day quarantine with a certified negative test result, Mayor Kim pushed Governor David Ige to approve a two-test system for transpacific travelers entering the county. “Because health experts believe that a single pre -travel test may not adequately identify all positive COVID- 19 travelers, a two -test system was implemented by Hawaii County”, today’s new rule stated.
From the Amendment #3 to Mayor Kim’s COVID- 19 Emergency Rule No. 12:
The County has conducted more than 12, 000 arrival tests for transpacific travelers at airports on Hawaii Island since October 15, 2020. The results of these arrival tests confirm that the single pre-test system required by the State is not 100% effective at identifying all travelers that are positive for COVID- 19. On November 4, 2020, the state of the pandemic finds that the U. S. surpassed 100, 000 new cases in a single day for the first time, 17 states reported record highs in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID- 19, the 7 -day moving average of new cases in the U. S and globally, continue to trend upwards, and numerous countries move towards increasing restrictions.
Despite the effectiveness of its two-test system, the County finds that the logistic, financial and resource commitments necessary to continue this program in its current form are unsustainable. In deference to the health and wellbeing of our kama`aina and malihini alike, the County endeavors to establish a modified testing system integrated with its established two-test system centered on transpacific travel. In an effort to maximize effectiveness of its surveillance and efficiency of its testing operations and resources, the testing system will select, at random, up to 25 percent of transpacific travelers availing themselves to the State’s negative test exception to the mandatory self -quarantine requirement and administer a COVID19 rapid antigen test prior to exiting the airport. The County finds this system necessary to collect data to compare against COVID- 19 conditions statewide, nationally, internationally and globally as well as for ongoing policymaking, healthcare and epidemiological planning and response efforts.
The amended rule went into effective today and is in effect through November 30, 2020.