Travelers run into roadblocks as they seek to provide COVID-19 test results to state

Updated: Oct. 21, 2020 at 5:41 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hundreds of travelers are running into roadblocks with the state’s online Safe Travels application, seeing days-long delays as their testing documents are reviewed.

And until their tests are accepted, they have to remain in quarantine.

Doug Murdock, Office of Enterprise Technology Services chief information officer, said one of the problems revolves around travelers who arrive in Hawaii without proof of a negative test.

About 5,000 travelers have uploaded their tests after arrival.

And of those, about 2,500 still need to be reviewed manually ― a backlog that could extend quarantine for travelers for days.

“We still have quite a few to go, but we are bringing new staff on every day to go through the tests," Murdock said. "We’ve added about 20 people today to work through the backlog, so we are hoping by the end of the week to have the backlog cleared out.”

Meanwhile, the Kamara family from Los Angeles is dealing with an entirely different problem.

Three days before arriving in Honolulu, they took a test at CVS ― a state-approved testing partner ― but had to quarantine upon arrival in Hawaii when the results did not come in.

On Wednesday morning, though, they found out they are stuck.

“They (CVS) admitted to us that our tests are being labeled as missing, completely lost,” said Katarina Kamara, whose family has been quarantining at a Waikiki hotel for the last five days.

“They don’t know where they are. They expect that it’s something to do with the people that picked up the tests from their testing site, bringing it to the lab that they got lost that way.”

Since they are in quarantine, the Kamaras and their 9-month-old daughter aren’t even sure they can leave the hotel for a second test.

After reaching out to several state and city agencies, there’s no resolution in sight.

“It’s like we have the beach right outside our window and we’re not allowed to go there,” Kamara said.

“I guess they didn’t think of this that the test result could actually be lost. They just think of it as ‘Oh you know, you just wait until you get the results,’ but no one thought about them being lost."

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said Wednesday afternoon that he and the state are working on a solution to address those types of solutions, one of which would be rapid testing set up at the airport.

Unfortunately for the Kamaras, a vacation that’s already been rescheduled several times due to COVID-19 may just end up being a 14-day hotel stay.

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