Will Hawaii Change COVID-19 Testing Requirements?

Will Hawaii Change COVID-19 Testing Requirements?

Hawaii Has Disrupted Many Travelers' Plans by requiring, as of 11/24/20, a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding the flight to Hawaii, a problem for many given that the test must be taken no more than 72 hours before the departure of the traveler's last flight leg, and the currently high demand for COVID-19 testing and delayed results from providers such as Vault Health.

Meanwhile, Kauai has opted out entirely of the Hawaii Safe Travels program, requiring a 14-day quarantine for all trans-Pacific and inter-island arrivals.

The Big Island of Hawaii, meanwhile, is going back to mandatory on arrival testing for all arriving travelers, using a rapid antigen test.

But Lt. Governor Josh Green, a physician, says that a way to improve Hawaii's Safe Travels program would be to:

1) Increase the mandatory pre-travel testing to four days from three (travelers would take the test 96 hours prior to the departure of their flight to Hawaii); and

2) Require a second COVID-19 test upon arrival

According to Green, allowing travelers additional time to take the test and receive results would help account for the challenge in receiving test results back in time, and the second COVID-19 test on arrival would provide an important way to catch those who tested negative initially but have since incubated the virus, since a negative test result is simply a snapshot in time, and false negatives are common early on, when a person has been infected but the virus hasn't yet propagated throughout the body.

It's unclear if Green's proposals will gain traction, since critics such as another physician, Dr. Darragh O'Carroll, claims that Hawaii has underestimated the prevalence of COVID-19 among travelers. He's proposing two tests combined with a period of quarantine after arrival.

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