No New Cases Last Week
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
Molokai logged no new COVID-19 cases last week, as statewide, the total cases as of last Friday reached 13,300 and COVID-19-related deaths in Hawaii totaled 166 since the beginning of the pandemic.
Starting this week on Oct. 15, the state will allow a pre-testing program for residents and visitors entering Hawaii that will allow travelers to bypass the 14-day quarantine if they show a negative COVID test within 72 hours of travel. Mayor Michael Victorino requested for an additional layer of safety for Maui County by also requiring a post-arrival test, but that request was denied by Gov. Ige.
“We are now requesting permission to urge transpacific travelers to voluntarily take a second test after they arrive in Maui County,” stated county officials. “We also are continuing to work with our visitor industry leaders to push guests to get a second test and ensure they are COVID-free to protect our community and workers. This second test is strongly encouraged for our residents returning from the mainland as well, who have been the source of many cases statewide.”
As of last Friday, Mayor Victorino said the County is still awaiting responses from the governor on several other requests related to travel policies.
One of those proposed policies would allow interisland travelers be allowed to participate in the pre-travel testing program, exempting them from quarantine with proof of a nagative test. Children under the age of 5 would not have to get tested.
Limited quarantine exemptions for critical infrastructure (CISA) functions and essential medical appointments would also continue with requests submitted to the counties.
“If the state is going to allow transpacific travelers the opportunity to avoid quarantine by testing negative, our Hawaii residents should at least have the same opportunity when traveling to other counties,” Mayor Victorino said. “Many of our residents have asked to be included in the program so they can visit family on other islands, which would boost our kama`aina economy.”
Any traveler whose pre-departure test result is not yet available upon arrival must quarantine at their place of lodging until their negative result is verified by the state. Travelers waiting for their pre-travel test results can stay at a hotel, motel, short-term rental, bed and breakfast or transient-vacation rental during their quarantine.
Travelers who get a positive test result must immediately report to the Maui District Health Office and follow all directions from the state Dept. of Health. Travelers would be responsible for all costs related to their testing, lodging and any associated care.
Another request by the Mayor Victorino pending the Governor’s approval would permit Maui County residents who travel solely between Maui, Molokai and Lanai to not be subject to quarantine or the pre-travel testing program.
If this request is granted, residents traveling within Maui County would not have to quarantine for 14 days. However, this rule would not apply if any portion of their trip is outside Maui County, such as connecting flights through Oahu.
“With our case numbers consistently low and many of our Molokai and Lanai residents needing to travel to Maui for resources and services, this change would be a great help for our community,” Mayor Victorino said.
For small businesses struggling with pandemic-related financial burdens, assistance was available through the Kokua Maui County Small Business Recovery and Relief Fund, which had a deadline of last Friday. As of last Wednesday, the county reported that to date, 812 applications had been approved and distributed, totaling $5.3 million. On Molokai, 23 applications have been awarded to small businesses, totaling $138,000 in financial assistance.