With launch date nearing, key details of pre-travel testing program still unclear

Published: Sep. 21, 2020 at 6:00 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 21, 2020 at 6:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state’s pre-travel testing program is set to be launched Oct. 15, but there’s still widespread confusion about how the program will work — and how to get a test.

One visitor says she tried to line up an appointment for a COVID-19 test with CVS and was denied.

That’s even though Gov. David Ige announced a partnership with Kaiser Permanente and CVS last week in setting a date for the testing program to begin. The program will allow visitors to forgo a mandatory quarantine if they test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of landing.

A CVS spokesperson confirmed the website to sign up for a pre-travel test isn’t ready yet.

The pre-travel testing program has been delayed three times, but the firm launch date is now less than a month away.

It’s news Ryan Garrett has been waiting for.

“We were excited about the prospect of my mother being able to visit,” Garret said. “Because we had a new baby boy in April. And none of the family has had a chance to see him in real life.”

But when she went to the CVS website and signed up for an appointment to get a COVID-19 test ahead of next month’s tourism relaunch, her application was rejected.

Turns out the pharmacy’s not quite ready to start lining up appointments for travelers. That’s information that Garrett says was never made clear by the company or the Ige administration.

In a statement, a CVS spokesperson said once the program begins people will need to register at CVS.com to schedule an appointment at one of its select drive-thru locations.

The cost is $139 a person. Results are expected within two to three days.

CVS says the program will be up and running for the launch of the state’s pre-travel testing program.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green says the timing of the test is critical.

“We are going to check that you got that within a 72-hour window of departure,” said Green. “Because you can’t get the test three weeks out and it won’t be worth anything.”

Green says travelers will need to have a copy of the test result with them. They’ll also need to upload it to a state website at travel.hawaii.gov.

“If you don’t have your test back — say it’s delayed — you will need to be in quarantine until you have your test result and then you’ll get cleared," he said.

Garrett says the state could have been more clear about when testing for travelers would be available.

“The announcement may have been a little premature,” he said. “But I’m glad they are proceeding to put a plan in place to actually make this feasible.”

CVS isn’t the only place to get a COVID-19 test that’s analyzed by a CLIA certified lab. Green says Kaiser Permanente and Walgreens will both offer acceptable tests.

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