Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami is not convinced the state’s pre-travel testing program for COVID-19, slated to begin Oct. 15, will provide enough protection to the Garden Island given Kaua‘i’s unique health capacity needs.
In Kaua‘i County’s COVID-19 daily briefing Friday, Kawakami said the pre-travel testing program, which requires mainland travelers to take a test 72 hours before their flight, offers no equitable alternatives for local, inter-island travelers to shorten their 14-day mandatory quarantine, appearing to prioritize visitors first.
As a result, Kawakami proposed Emergency Rule 18 on Sept. 24, which would require all travelers – transpacific and inter-island – who wish to avoid a full 14-day quarantine to take this COVID test no sooner than 72 hours after arrival to Kauai.
“This means all incoming travelers, local residents and tourists, would be treated equally, and would quarantine for a minimum of three days before they have the opportunity to take a rapid COVID test here on island,” Kawakami stated. “The plan would be to utilize rapid tests with same-day results, and upon a negative test result, these travelers would be released from quarantine.”
The mayor took a moment Friday to address public statements made by state officials raising issues with his proposal, specifically, about the county’s testing capacity. The concern is the county program would take away testing resources away from local residents, or it would be inconvenient for visitors to have inconsistent arrival instructions by county.
“Our plan would rely on its own testing capacity — it will not draw upon traditional PCR testing capacity on island or statewide,” Kawakami said. “Our county has secured 15,000 rapid molecular Point-of-Care (POC) COVID-19 tests, to be delivered early next week.”
The county, the mayor said, is committed to ensure adequate rapid testing capacity is in place for the first few weeks of the program, to get it up and running, adding that he anticipates this additional requirement will open a new market on Kaua‘i for rapid testing mechanisms.
“We are working with our health care and laboratory partners in order to provide this service to our visitors and returning residents,” Kawakami said. “Kaua‘i is ready to implement a post-arrival testing program on October 15. We simply need the Governor’s authority to do so, and we eagerly await a response to our Rule 18 so we can move forward.”