UPDATED 3:26 p.m.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said he wants post-travel testing as well as pre-travel testing for COVID-19 to ensure the safety of the community as Hawaii tries to reopen amid the pandemic.
“I just don’t think we should take the risk with one COVID-19 test taken up to three days before traveling,” Kim said in a statement. “There are so many variables involved in a pre-travel test that could make the tests unreliable; we have to have a second test upon arrival in Hawaii.”
The number of potential positive cases being introduced to the community would pose too high of a risk, Kim said.
Approximately 2,000 visitors are coming to Hawaii every day, with an estimated 5,000 arrivals a day once the one-test policy goes into effect.
Kim said he and the other three mayors today discussed a two-test policy for trans-Pacific travel, instead of the policy that goes into effect on Oct. 15, whereby a single negative result of a test taken up to three days before travel would eliminate the need to quarantine for 14 days.
“We need time to work out the logistics of administering a second test, but it will be worth it,” Kim said.
He said a definitive decision would be forthcoming this week.
Currently, all travelers arriving in Hawaii must quarantine for 14 days after arrival from the mainland. Interisland travel from Oahu and between the neighbor islands is also subject to the 14-day quarantine.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim has not made a “definitive decision” to opt out of the Oct. 15 pre-travel COVID-19 testing program.
“A definitive decision has not been made yet — it’s forthcoming this week,” Maurice Messina, Kim’s executive assistant and chief of staff, said Tuesday morning.
Messina said opting out of the pre-travel testing option means that travelers to the Big Island would have to quarantine for 14 days.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported this morning that Kim had elected to opt-out of the testing program after Gov. David Ige gave mayors the option to opt out of the program in a virtual meeting on Monday.
“The reason the mayor opted out was because the science shows that one test has too much risk. We have been told that the one test would catch only 40% of the potential positives, even if Lt. Gov Green claims 80%. Even at 80%, the number of positives being introduced to our community is high. A second test after arrival significantly reduces that risk,” Messina said.
By opting out, Messina said the mayor is seeking more time to put into place the second test or even a third COVID-19 test for arriving passengers.
“To do this by October 15 may be a challenge, hence the only choice at the moment may be to opt out. The opt out period would be only the time needed to stand up the second test,” he said. “A team addressing the logistics for the second test is actively working to have this in place as soon as possible. “
The final decision will be made in coordination with the state and other counties.
“The mayor is still weighing options, whether to hold to the opt out or find an acceptable risk option to opt in. A definitive decision is forthcoming this week based on the information from the team and coordination with the State and other counties,” Messina said.
A second high-ranking county official confirmed to the Tribune-Herald today that Kim has not committed to opting out of the pre-travel COVID-19 testing program.