HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Starting Wednesday, the Big Island will begin COVID-19 testing all incoming trans-Pacific travelers who took a pre-boarding test to avoid quarantine.
The program is part of Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim’s effort to control the virus and its economic fallout during his few remaining days in office.
Kim also favors tightening of the pre-travel rules, which now require quarantine if the pre-travel test isn’t ready.
He told Hawaii News Now the the county is bolstering its testing program because of the spike in mainland COVID-19 cases and the backlog in testing.
“The demand for tests is strictly because of one reason, the very frightening spiking of the disease in all of the states especially the feeder states,” said Kim.
Starting Wednesday, all trans-Pacific travelers will take a rapid-antigen test upon arrival at the Kona International Airport.
Last month, only a quarter of trans-Pacific arrivals were getting that second test because of a lack of space at the airport.
But Kim says the state allotted the county enough room at the Kona airport to test all trans-Pacific arrivals.
“We will be doing 100% because we feel this is a very, very important thing to test these people and test results have shown it is necessary,” he said.
Meanwhile, the economic strain of the pandemic is being felt across the state, but Kim promises no furloughs of county workers because of budget cuts this fiscal year.
“There are no furloughs being planned now,” said Kim.
“Hopefully with good planning financially and revenues versus expenditures, we will not be in a very difficult situation that the state government is in now,” said Kim.
Mayor-elect Mitch Roth will be sworn-in six days from now on Monday at noon.