Kauai has won approval from the Hawaii government to suspend its participation in the state's coronavirus pretravel testing program, meaning nearly everyone arriving in the Garden Isle must self-quarantine for 14 days.
Effective Dec. 2, all arrivals to Kauai will be subject to the two-week quarantine. There will be no option to bypass the mandatory self-isolation, even if the traveler tests negative for coronavirus prior to departure for the Islands. Kauai's total coronavirus case count doubled in the six weeks since the pretravel testing program launched on Oct. 15. Roughly 80% of the cases registered in that period have been from individuals who traveled outside Kauai.
"The unprecedented surge of Covid-19 cases on the mainland and the rise in community spread on Kauai are of significant concern for the Garden Isle. We must protect Kauai residents and visitors and ensure that Kauai's hospitals do not become overwhelmed," Gov. David Ige said in a statement. He approved the measure late last week. "Kauai County currently has the fewest number of ICU beds in the state, and private providers are seeking ways to increase capacity. This moratorium aims to stabilize the situation on Kauai."
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To date, Kauai has recorded 114 coronavirus cases locally and an additional 17 in residents who were diagnosed while off the island, less than 1% of Hawaii's total, and did not report its first death related to Covid-19 until Nov. 23. With nine intensive care unit beds available on the entire island, Kauai mayor Derek Kawakami has expressed concerns that any significant spike in infections could overwhelm the island's limited health resources.
"Given the national surge of Covid cases on the mainland, Kauai is unable to adequately protect itself by utilizing the Safe Travels program at this time," Kawakami said in a statement. "Our travel-related cases are now leading to community spread across our island. This temporary pause in travel will allow us to remain in Tier 4 as long as possible, keeping youth sports playing and businesses open as we conduct surge testing and contact tracing. I will gladly repeal the moratorium once we have the virus under control again."
On Nov. 30, the Kauai District Health Office reported two new cases of coronavirus in people who had both recently participated in the Safe Travels program and reportedly boarded their flight after receiving positive pretravel test results.
A modified quarantine protocol is available on a case-by-case basis for critical infrastructure workers, essential medical travel or other special circumstances. To apply for a modified quarantine, visit www.kauai.gov/covid-19.
Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and Island of Hawaii continue to participate in the state's pretravel testing program. Travelers must have their negative test results prior to departing and register with the state's Safe Travels site in order to be eligible to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine. Only test results from Trusted Testing and Travel Partners are accepted. For more information on the state's Covid-19 cases or the state's Safe Travels program, visit hawaiicovid19.com.