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Mayors seek travel rule changes amid surging coronavirus cases

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The county mayors are proposing travel-related rule adjustments amid surging COVID-19 circumstances on the mainland and Hawaii, however thus far their requests are simply piling up on Gov. David Ige’s desk.

Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami was alone in taking the controversial step Tuesday of requesting to briefly choose out of the state’s pre-arrival traveler testing program. However the different county mayors have requested for tweaks of their very own. To date, Ige hasn’t formally introduced a call on any of their requests.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is proposing utilizing a mixture of post-arrival testing and cellphone monitoring to permit vacationers to check out of quarantine or significantly shorten their time in lockdown.

Maui Mayor Mike Victorino needs permission to require that vacationers coming to Maui as a part of the state’s pre-arrival testing program should take a post-arrival take a look at 72 to 96 hours after they arrive. Till that second take a look at comes again, Victorino is pondering of creating vacationers quarantine in a resort bubble with geo-tracking.

“They may have the run of the home, however solely like what we’ve achieved with the movie trade,” Victorino mentioned throughout a Wednesday media briefing. “They keep there, they work there, they’re examined there after which if something breaks out it’s contained inside that facility or that lodge or that resort.”

Kawakami has mentioned 5 resorts on Kauai have already got been permitted to function resort bubbles.

Since Oct. 15, when Hawaii started permitting vacationers to skip the state’s necessary 14-day quarantine with a adverse COVID take a look at, greater than 380,000 folks have traveled to the islands or between islands. About 70% of the vacationers are guests, and about 88% of the vacationers have prevented quarantine by having a adverse take a look at end result or as a result of they’re exempted.

The state grants exemptions for sure vacationers, together with transit passengers, airline crew, crucial infrastructure staff, army and federal authorities workers.

Mayor Harry Kim mentioned he’s appealed to Ige to scrutinize the state’s insurance policies in regard to issuing restricted quarantine exemptions to crucial staff and others. Kim mentioned Ige lately started requiring such vacationers to take a post-arrival take a look at, however Kim thinks they need to additionally take a pre-arrival take a look at.

Kim additionally has urged Ige to take the broad swath of knowledge that Hawaii island has collected from its necessary post-arrival take a look at and consider loopholes within the “Secure Travels Hawaii” program.

“Now we have sufficient knowledge to point out all the loopholes within the (Secure Travels Hawaii) system,” Kim mentioned. “It permits too many to come back right here that could be contaminated, and that must be corrected.”

The Secure Travels program has come underneath fireplace as mainland infections surge, together with travel-related circumstances of COVID-19 in Hawaii.

Journey-related COVID-19 infections are nonetheless uncommon in Hawaii, the place the customer trade has labored laborious to create new security insurance policies and cleansing protocols geared toward holding residents and vacationers wholesome.

Nevertheless, the share of travel-related COVID-19 circumstances has greater than quadrupled because the state welcomed again nonessential vacationers in October, in accordance with knowledge launched Tuesday by the state Division of Well being. State well being officers mentioned Tuesday that 13% of Hawaii’s COVID-19 circumstances had been travel-related thus far in November, up from 3% in October.

Kawakami, who envisions opting out of the state’s pre-arrival testing program for not less than 4 weeks, mentioned he’s not lobbying for a statewide incentive.

“As mayor of Kauai, I solely suggest guidelines which can be pertinent to Kauai and the sources that we’ve,” he mentioned. “I don’t like our efforts being generalized with what is occurring in several counties or within the state. … I believe we’ve a novel scenario in {that a} majority of circumstances are travel-related and, up till lately, we haven’t seen neighborhood unfold.”

Caldwell mentioned he has proposed new travel-related guidelines to handle the general public security and financial considerations which have emerged since Ige’s newest order. That order, which took impact Tuesday, mentioned trans-Pacific passengers to Hawaii who took a take a look at on the mainland however haven’t gotten the outcomes but gained’t be capable to bypass the 14-day quarantine, even after their take a look at outcomes change into out there.

Kawakami and Kim lobbied for and supported the state’s determination to give up permitting vacationers who arrived with pending exams to get out of quarantine. However Caldwell mentioned he expects Ige’s shift will imply extra vacationers will arrive in Hawaii needing to quarantine, which might outstrip the county’s enforcement sources.

Caldwell mentioned he needs Ige to comply with let him provide Oahu vacationers the prospect to take a post-arrival take a look at to get out of quarantine. These vacationers would obtain a cell phone monitoring system and quarantine till they met state and county necessities.

Caldwell mentioned town’s post-arrival take a look at could be free for vacationers who took a pre-arrival COVID-19 take a look at. They’d probably need to quarantine for about three hours earlier than getting the outcomes.

“We do know a piece of (guests) are going into quarantine, and that quantity grows since you’ve obtained to quarantine for 14 days, so it retains including up,” Caldwell mentioned. “There’s no approach the Honolulu Police Division could make calls thrice a day or knock on doorways thrice a day. If persons are getting out of quarantine after 4 days as a substitute of 14, that quantity stays extra manageable for enforcement causes. And, there’s extra safety with two exams in 4 days than one take a look at three days earlier than you arrive.”

Caldwell additionally has requested Ige to require that vacationers who’ve obtained a restricted quarantine exemption, which doesn’t embrace a pre-arrival COVID-19 screening, to get a take a look at. Caldwell mentioned the county wouldn’t pay for these exams; nevertheless, he expects their prices could be lined by the traveler’s medical insurance or employer.

The mayors from all of Hawaii’s counties have mentioned they hoped that the state would reevaluate its surveillance testing program, which started shortly after the state launched its pre-arrival testing program.

“Sure, we’ve some considerations. We hope to make enhancements and adjustments,” Victorino mentioned.

The majority of the surveillance exams — some 15,931 out of 17,270 — have come from Hawaii island and had been supplied as a part of Kim’s necessary post-arrival take a look at. Solely one other 616 surveillance exams had been carried out on Oahu, 392 on Maui and 331 on Kauai.

“If they’re utilizing our testing for his or her functions, it might not meet their wants. It’s counterproductive of reaching that purpose if you’re utilizing our figures to check one thing that ought to have been gathering three or 4 days after, and for a few of ours, it’s just one or two days after, which makes an enormous distinction,” Kim mentioned. “When you take a look at our testing and the holes in it, it reveals that.”

Caldwell mentioned the surveillance testing program leaned too closely on Hawaii island knowledge and fell in need of its purpose to randomly take a look at 10% of arriving guests 4 days after arrival.

“There’s rising concern given the positivity price on the continent. (Additionally,) the surveillance testing that was promised was not carried out correctly, and due to this fact the outcomes which can be being reported is probably not correct outcomes,” he mentioned.

The Secure Travels Hawaii COVID-19 Analysis Testing Program introduced Wednesday that it had completed gathering knowledge. For the reason that program’s launch on Oct. 19 to Tuesday, 45 constructive COVID-19 circumstances had been recognized out of 20,253 exams for a positivity price of two.2 circumstances per 1,000 exams.

Caldwell mentioned he isn’t assured within the figures. Nonetheless, he expressed disappointment that this system wasn’t operating by the top of the yr, “because the county mayors had been promised.”

“We’ll be at midnight going ahead,” Caldwell mentioned.

Kim and Caldwell additionally mentioned they had been uncomfortable with the big numbers of arriving passengers that the state is constant to permit into Hawaii underneath an exemption program that doesn’t require participation in Hawaii’s pre-arrival testing program.

“The people who find themselves exempt from any sort of quarantine numbered roughly 20% to 25% of any group coming in at any time. The quantity is within the hundreds that aren’t examined or quarantined,” Kim mentioned. “We’ve had a couple of case the place a health care provider or nurse coming right here was given an exemption after which labored in a hospital or clinic and later came upon they had been constructive. It’s extra essential that we require important staff, who work in medical fields and different essential areas, to get examined.”

Victorino, Caldwell and Kim mentioned they had been dissatisfied with Secure Travels Hawaii, however none of them had been prepared to depart this system.

Victorino mentioned, “I’m not precisely able to choose out. We’re wanting and watching very intently, and if the numbers hit sure factors on our tier chart, we’d take into account going from the place we at the moment are to perhaps a ‘protected at residence, keep at residence.’”

Caldwell mentioned that “opting out shouldn’t be into account at this level. What’s into account is extra testing to maintain us all wholesome and welcome extra guests again.”

Kim mentioned pulling out of Secure Travels Hawaii wasn’t a viable possibility for Hawaii island, both, because it “gained’t resolve the issue” so long as the “quarantine is unenforceable.”

“Kauai might need deal with on imposing their quarantine system, however I don’t suppose the remainder of us have,” Kim mentioned.

 

SAFE TRAVELS SNAPSHOT

Since Oct. 15, Secure Travels has allowed Hawaii to reopen to nonessential trans-Pacific vacationers by offering them with a chance to check out of the state’s necessary 14-day traveler quarantine.

>> From its begin by Wednesday, Secure Travels had screened 383,239 vacationers, together with 268,575 guests.

>> Some 340,422, or roughly 88%, of the vacationers screened by Secure Travels Hawaii had been granted quarantine exemptions.

>> Roughly, 261,057 vacationers, 77% of these granted exemptions Oct. 15-Nov. 23, earned them on the premise of a adverse COVID-19 take a look at.

>> Throughout the identical time interval, the state allowed one other 79,365 vacationers, who made up roughly 23% of the exemptions granted, to bypass not less than a portion of the quarantine with out taking a pre-arrival COVID-19 take a look at. Vacationers who had been granted nontesting exemptions included transit passengers, airline crew, crucial infrastructure staff, army, federal authorities workers and college students.

Supply: Secure Travels Hawaii dashboard



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