Public-private partnership ensures continued post-arrival virus testing at Kona airport

  • Premier Medical personnel perform COVID-19 Rapid Tests on trans-Pacific passengers on Oct. 16 at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today)

A public-private partnership will ensure post-arrival COVID-19 testing continues through mid-January at Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport at Keahole.

The partnership between a private philanthropist and Hawaii County will ensure the continuation of trans-Pacific arrival testing through Jan. 15, 2021. The post-arrival testing is unique to Hawaii County and was implemented in mid-October utilizing federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act

Federal CARES Act funding that had covered the program ended Tuesday. The partnership ensured the effort continued Wednesday without any lapse in testing.

Roth said trans-Pacific arrival testing has acted as an added layer of protection for Hawaii Island residents since the return of tourism in October. To date, 45 positive cases have been detected in travelers who had received the state’s negative test exemption.

“It has been humbling to work alongside vested members of our community, the hotel industry, and generous philanthropists who share in a deep sense of aloha and responsibility for our island home to find immediate solutions that help to keep our community safe,” Roth said. “It is my hope that these types of public-private partnerships will become a cornerstone of our administration. We thank all of those who worked tirelessly to meet the deadline to ensure that no days of testing were missed.”

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