The Latest: 4 Deaths, 62 New Cases; Counties Going Their Own Ways On 2nd Traveler Tests

Oct 13, 2020

Updated: 10/13/2020, 12:26 p.m.

Where we stand

The state Department of Health today reported four deaths and 62 new COVID-19 cases. The latest case count is the second day in a row that daily infections fell to double-digits. The numbers bring the statewide total of COVID cases to 13,575. The death toll rose to 173.

There have now been 12,097 cases on Oahu (30 new cases), 974 on Hawaii Island (21 new cases), 408 for Maui County (11 new cases), and 59 on Kauai County (no new cases). Those diagnosed out of state stand at 37. 

Oahu still leads in number of infections, but Hawaii Island continues to see more COVID-19 cases.

Counties cleared to give 2nd tests, but they each have their own plan

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell confirmed yesterday that Gov. David Ige gave the counties the authority to conduct a second COVID-19 test on arriving travelers, but Ige left it up to the counties to figure out how to pay for and implement the tests. 

Oahu won't carry out a second test for now, but the Neighbor Islands are each setting up their own procedures, creating even more uncertainty for travelers when they begin arriving later this week under the state's reopening plan.

The governor's office would not verify that he has cleared the way for the counties to establish their own supplemental, post-arrival test. Communications Director Cindy McMillan told HPR by email today that no announcement has been made. "When we have information we will share it," she said.

Ige is expected to hold a press conference today when questions about the testing program could be addressed.

Thursday is the day that the state begins allowing passengers to skip the 14-day mandatory travel quarantine if they take a pre-travel test within 72 hours of their arrival and the results prove negative.

The Neighbor Island mayors have pressed the governor to permit a second test after travelers arrive, arguing that the single, pre-travel test is not enough to keep communities safe.

Ige gave tentative approval on Friday to Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim's request for a second test. Kim said he plans to use $3.5 million in CARES Act funds to pay for the antigen tests, which are less accurate, but cheaper than the more sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nasal swab tests.

At a press conference yesterday, Caldwell repeated that he’d prefer to do a second COVID-19 test on passengers arriving under the state’s pre-travel testing program if Oahu had the testing capacity, but it does not.

"But at this point, as you know, the vast majority of the population of Hawaii lives on Oahu. And we also have the highest number of cases, which means people are either coming in close contacts or actually have symptoms that need to be tested. And we want to make sure that capacity and testing we have on Oahu not be spent somewhere else," he said.

"So we’re looking to beef up our capacity. We’re working with a mobile lab unit to see if perhaps they can do up to 10,000 tests a day, and if it actually works out, then we’ll roll out a second test. But it will not happen on the 15th—it’ll probably happen down the road a bit."

Caldwell says the two facilities that currently process tests on the island are Diagnostic Labs and Clinical Labs, which have a combined capacity of 2,000 to 5,000 tests a day.

The mayor urged Oahu residents to continue practicing safe measures as the state prepares to reopen to trans-Pacific travelers.

--HPR News Staff

Maui County to ask travelers to take second tests voluntarily

Starting Friday, Maui County will ask that travelers voluntarily take a second COVID-19 test 72 hours after arrival, said Maui County Managing Director Sandy Baz. The test would supplement the state's plan to require a negative pre-flight test if travelers wish to skip the mandatory two-week quarantine.

He said the county has PCR tests available to use on tourists that would not impact the stock available for the community.

Baz, standing in for Mayor Michael Victorino at a press conference, said yesterday Gov. David Ige has given preliminary approval for its reopening proposals. They would also allow passengers from other counties to fly to Maui County and avoid quarantine with a negative pre-travel test, similar to the state program for trans-Pacific travel.

Baz said the governor is expected to extend the interisland travel quaratine beyond the end of October. But travelers from other counties could take the pre-test and skip the two-week isolation if the results are negative.

County residents can also travel between Maui, Molokai and Lanai without quarantine or a pre-travel test under the governor's tentative approval. Baz said the county is waiting on the approved rules from the governor.

Kauai County had asked for a second test as well, but Ige rejected its proposal. The county resubmitted a plan to Ige last week tied to a tiered reopening system similar to Honolulu's. It would allow for the county to opt out of the state pre-test program if COVID cases increased to a certain level.