Hawaii’s pre-travel COVID-19 test plan is still “under construction” as Hawaii cases increase

UPDATE: The pre-travel test plan that was due to start August 1, 2020, will be DELAYED.

blankGov. Ige held press conferences on July 6 and 7. (You can view the July 6th conference here and July 7th here if you have more than a couple of hours to kill. 😉 ) Between the two press conferences, the governor has indicated that the pre-travel testing program is still “under construction.”

Yesterday, July 7, 2020, Hawaii had their largest single-day, COVID-19 cases reported – 41. The previous high was 34 cases back on April 3, 2020. Through yesterday, 1071 cases have been identified with the vast majority of those being on Oahu.

Hawaii has reopened much of its local economy and as such were anticipating the increase in cases. Though they are concerned with the increased cases, they are better prepared to conduct contact tracing to test and isolate individuals who might possibly spread the virus.

Additionally, the increase in cases has not translated into a strain on the state’s health care system. Very few COVID-positive patients are requiring intensive care in Hawaii. As Lt. Gov. Green reported at the July 6 press conference, Hawaii currently has 244 ICU beds of which, only 49% are in use. Only three of those beds are being occupied with COVID-19 patients. Hawaii has 459 ventilators of which 53 are currently in use and only two of those are for patients with COVID-19. Obviously a surge in cases is not desirable, but Hawaii has capacity to respond to a surge, if necessary.

Between the two press conferences in recent days, several members of the press asked the governor if he might delay the August 1st start of opening travel to Hawaii without quarantine with a negative pre-travel test. These questions were raised in light of the fact that the number of cases on the U.S. mainland have been increasing. At the July 6th press conference, the governor said,

“We are monitoring what happens and obviously if we do see conditions that we do feel that would put the health and safety of our community at jeopardy, we will consider extending that August 1st date, but at this point in time, with more than three weeks prior to that date, we are committed to making sure that all the things that we need to put in place in order to safely welcome back trans-Pacific travelers who get tested, we do believe that we have the systems to be able to do that safely.”

So, that’s where everything stands at the moment. We’ll continue to keep on the lookout for and report news as it relates to reopening Hawaii travel.

13 comments
  1. Thanks Sheila. It will be interesting to see how the testing comes together. As I’m sure you know, it is still hard to get a test on the mainland unless you have symptoms and right now there isn’t much certainty that results can be obtained within 72 hours. I have been following Lt Green’s daily facebook posts. Quite a few of the commenters are deathly afraid of the August 1 plan. Some seem like they will not exactly greet mainlanders with open arms…still hoping for Kauai in October.

  2. With so much uncertainty we were forced to cancel our August 13 trip to Hawaii. I am not sure we can get tested and have the results back in time to book a flight! I understand their concern, but until something is clear, I don’t know when we will be back. I wish the guidelines were that you had to wear a mask on the island and then I would have no problem coming.

  3. Has anyone discussed the issues, IF Hawaii opens Trans-Pacific flights (specifically from the Mainland), will there be additional restriction on travelers from states with very high COVID infections, ie AZ, FL, TX? There are currently 8 Mainland states that are requiring 14 quarantine of travelers from AZ, FL and TX.

    1. Hawaii officials have indicated that they are watching what’s going on with the mainland. They have not indicated any extra level of restrictions from states with higher COVID infections.

      On a somewhat related note, sometimes it’s helpful to look at the context of infections relative to the population. For example, through yesterday Texas has had a total of 210,585 cumulative, confirmed cases since they started tracking earlier this year. Their population is roughly 29 million. So that means that less than 0.8% of the entire Texas population has had COVID since the start of tracking, which was probably in early March.

  4. If you are traveling from the East Coast US (12 hours+ flight) and the hours you can get the tests, plus info that tests results take 2 or more days, this 72 hours may not be possible.

  5. For us impatient vacationers, we should just accept the blunt fact that this summer is not meant for travel.

    Our nation’s effort to control COVID-19 is a complete disgrace, and likely would remain so, until we vote certain people out of their offices.

  6. Thank goodness we shut down travel from China as early as we did, despite all the extremist backlash against it, huh? The biggest life saving decision we could have made.

  7. 07/09/20 Update:

    From Star Advertiser
    In Summary – Gov. Ige met yesterday with all Mayors and will resume today to make final decision as to whether to push back the August 1 reopening or stay the course.
    Hawaii City Council just voted 9-0 yestrday to delay the opening until cases show improvement in the surging areas; e.g., Tx, Fl, Ca.
    Still no details mentioned about the pre-testing program or protocol.
    Of other note; The Islands just lost about 70% of their testing capacity as their mainland supplier of key chemicals cut them off to support the rising demand stateside.
    This only further complicates the ambitious opening on Aug 1.

    Please follow link for full read:
    https://www.staradvertiser.com/2020/07/09/hawaii-news/gov-ige-and-the-states-mayors-will-meet-again-to-decide-whether-to-lift-the-14-day-travel-quarantine/

  8. In Houston we have a same day results testing at Elite Care. Anyone having surgery must get a test prior to the operation. The hospitals are using Elite Care to get same day results. If the hospitals trust this company then it should be okay for travel. I am sure they would provide testing for anyone traveling. And I am surprised that people are traveling around the United States without having to take a test but we can’t go to one of our states just because they are an island.

  9. I’ve seen reference to CLIA Laboratory designation, might be harder to find here in Canada. I hope they allow Canadian tests as well. It’s a ways away and I’m sure it will all be sorted by the time I hope to travel. (May 2021).
    Personally and in general I’m all for the masks and testing while pandemic is here., Anything that is so easy to do that helps everything begin to return to normal is good. I don’t understand all the protests, do these people not want things to return to as normal as soon as possible?
    Here in Alberta Canada there is a government smart phone app where we can receive our test results, I’m hoping and assuming that will be acceptable.

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