Vet learns the hard way that the VA isn’t a 'trusted partner’ in pre-travel testing program

Updated: Nov. 12, 2020 at 6:05 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - There are more than 1,200 Veterans Affairs clinics and hospitals nationwide, but a negative COVID-19 test result from any of those won’t help a visitor or returning resident avoid Hawaii’s quarantine.

That’s what Eric Jacobson learned the hard way.

Jacobson is a Vietnam veteran from California who is visiting his daughter and grandchildren on Oahu.

He said he went to the VA clinic in San Jose ― 72 hours ahead of his flight to Hawaii ― as directed by the pre-travel program. “I asked them if their test was covered, they said of course it is, all military personnel coming to Hawaii have the exact same test,” Jacobson told Hawaii News Now.

But when he arrived in Honolulu and showed airport officials his negative result, he was told he still had to quarantine for 14 days because the VA is not a trusted partner in the pre-travel testing program.

So Jacobson has spent the last week at his daughter’s North Shore home; they’re all quarantined.

“I think someone just dropped the ball,” he said. “I don’t think it’s intentional, I think everyone is trying to do the best they can.”

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said a group of state agencies are working to approve more trusted partners in the next couple of weeks.

“They’re going to add a big group of testers," he said.

But Green didn’t know yet if the VA was included.

In a statement, the Governor’s Office said the state Department of Health, Department of Transportation, and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency are reviewing applications.

The VA would need to apply to be a tested partner to be considered, the Governor’s Office said.

The VA is government funded and is one of the nation’s biggest health care systems.

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