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Arrivals remain strong after COVID-19 testing program launch

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                People pass the Duke Kahanamoku statue on Friday in Waikiki. The state’s highly anticipated pre-travel COVID-19 testing program that launched Thursday drew over 10,000 travelers on its first day.

    JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    People pass the Duke Kahanamoku statue on Friday in Waikiki. The state’s highly anticipated pre-travel COVID-19 testing program that launched Thursday drew over 10,000 travelers on its first day.

Airline travel to Hawaii remained strong Friday, with 7,853 trans-Pacific passengers arriving one day after the reopening of tourism under the state’s new pre-travel testing program.

A total of 4,601 passengers disembarked in Honolulu, with 1,706 arriving in Kahului, 807 in Kona and 739 in Lihue, according to prelim- inary data from the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. The arrivals included 3,371 vacationers and 1,052 returning residents, as well as a mix of passengers planning to relocate here, business travelers, airline crews, military or federal personnel and those in transit to other destinations.

Additionally, 20 of the arrivals came to Hawaii to get married, HTA said.

(The Department of Health’s COVID-19 Dashboard showed 4,967 visitors arriving Friday along with 1,314 residents.)

No information was available on how many passengers flew into the islands with the negative test results needed to bypass the state’s 14-day quarantine, or how many were awaiting test results or had opted out of the pre-travel testing program.

On the first day of the program Thursday, 8,224 trans-Pacific passengers arrived in the islands, including 3,194 visitors, according to HTA. Combined with interisland air traffic, the state’s Safe Travels Hawaii program estimated that 10,120 passengers went through the arrival screening system Thursday.

About 60% came pre-tested, officials said.

By comparison, on Wednesday, 1,971 passengers arrived in Hawaii from out of state, including only 157 vacationers, HTA said.

Quarantine rules also apply for interisland travel to Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island, but not Oahu. Kauai and Maui counties allow interisland travelers to bypass the quarantine under the same rules as the state’s pre-arrival testing program, however, a post-arrival test is required for visitors to Hawaii island, who can take a free rapid test at the airport.

Kauai Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami announced Saturday the Garden Isle will be providing free, voluntary post-arrival COVID-19 tests starting Monday for Kauai residents who are returning from out of state and receive a quarantine exemption via the state’s Safe Travels pre-testing program. He said the post-arrival testing should be done four to 10 days after returning home.

“We know that pre-testing will not catch every case of COVID-19,” Kawakami said in a news release. “One of the safety issues we are most passionate about is creating a second, post-­arrival test for incoming travelers, particularly those traveling from the mainland. Kauai’s mandatory post-­arrival test program was denied, so we are asking for your help to keep our community safe by participating in a voluntary post-arrival test program.”

Testing with same-day results will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. Post-arrival testing is not available for interisland travelers at this time.

Post-arrival testing for nonresidents is available for a fee through American Medical Response.

Meanwhile, Ige announced Saturday the eight “trusted testing partners” for interisland travel where passengers can get authorized COVID testing within 72 hours of departure. They are: Clinical Laboratories of Hawaii; CVS Health (Longs); Hawai‘i Pacific Health at Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children on Oahu and Wilcox Medical Center on Kauai; Kaiser Permanente (for members only); Minit Medical on Maui; Walgreens; Urgent Care Hawaii; and Vault Health.

For restrictions, instructions, locations, registration and other information, visit each partner’s website.

Health officials reported Saturday that Hawaii recorded one new corona­virus-related death on Oahu and 96 new infections statewide, bringing the totals since the start of the pandemic to 186 fatalities and 13,949 cases, health officials said Saturday.

The new cases include 81 on Oahu, 12 on Hawaii island, one on Kauai and two Hawaii residents who were diagnosed while out of state.

As of Saturday, 2,768 infections are considered active cases statewide, with a total of 10,995 patients now classified by health officials as “released from isolation,” or about 79% of those infected, according to the state’s official count. Officials reported 48 new releases Saturday.

State health officials said they counted 3,897 tests in Saturday’s count for a 2.5% statewide positivity rate.

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