Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami did not mince words when he shared his reaction to news of a Kauai couple arrested over the weekend for traveling on a flight from San Francisco to Lihue, after knowingly testing positive for the coronavirus.
“It was a reckless action and it really did not put into thought of other people’s health and safety. It’s disappointing but we know that this is not the first time that people have boarded airplanes knowingly positive and gotten on and made their way to Kauai,” he said this morning on Spotlight Hawaii.
The couple was arrested for reckless endangering after arriving on Kauai, and later released on bail.
Mayor Kawakami said he is doing all he can to stop the spread of COVID-19 on his island, including a controversial move starting today to opt out of the state’s Safe Travels program. For the foreseeable future, anyone arriving on Kauai will have to quarantine for 14 days, which is a major blow to island’s the struggling economy.
Kawakami said he did not want to take this severe step, preferring instead to mandate a second test for all arriving passengers after a three day quarantine, but the state rejected that plan and so he felt he had no other choice.
“We have a well thought out plan that our team formulated to have a second test three days after arrival,” he said.
“We had acquired the tests on our own. We had contracts in place to have testing partners go out and administer the second test, but we were denied and the option we were given was to opt out.”
Kawakami said he will continue to present his plan to Gov. David Ige in the hopes of approval. Given the limited healthcare capacity on Kauai and the rising case count on the mainland, he said he believes post-arrival testing is safest path forward.
“If the fear is the failure of the program, well, let me fail,” he said.
“Kauai deserves to be offered an opportunity to see if this model works moving forward, especially since we’re seeing a huge rise in cases on the continental United States.”
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.