Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami says he is still advocating a second COVID-19 test upon arrival for visitors to Kauai, though his initial attempt to mandate that was denied by Gov. David Ige.
Kawakami told Spotlight Hawaii this morning that leaders were meeting today to try to figure out what protocols should be in place for neighbor islands when trans-pacific travel reopens on Thursday.
“I think the state had made assurances to travelers that if they took a first test 72 hours pre-departure and tested negative that they would not be put in quarantine. And that’s a commitment that the state has made, although it’s never a commitment that we as a county has made, based on our unique situation,” he said.
Kawakami would like visitors to take a second test to ensure the safety of his community, which has seen few coronavirus cases, especially when compared with the rest of the islands. Even with the low case count, the mayor encouraged residents to stay vigilant.
“We’re seeing a lot of people dropping their guard around friends and family that do not live under the same household. I want to remind everybody that we are all potential carriers of this virus. It is not obvious as far as the symptoms that show themselves. So we have to be more careful around friends and family, knowing that there is a level of security that we feel that can come back and hurt us potentially,” Kawakami said.
The 42-year old mayor has received praise for his handling of the pandemic, with some suggesting a possible run for governor. Kawakami said he was “humbled” at the thought, but focused on his job now and looking to a second term as mayor.
“I made a commitment to the people of Kauai that I wanted to be their mayor and that is my intent. That is what I’m going to do,” he said.
Adding with a smile, “Right now I’m just happy being a Kauai boy. It’s just hard to explain. Home is where the heart is.“
Spotlight Hawaii, which shines a light on issues affecting Hawaii, airs live 10:30 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Join Ryan Kalei Tsuji and Yunji de Nies this month for a conversation with guests. Click here to watch previous conversations.