Honolulu – Gov. David Ige today announced a new leadership team that will oversee the state’s public health response to COVID-19 and the pre-travel testing program for COVID-19, which will start October 15.
Pre-travel testing enables travelers to avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine if they are tested no earlier than 72 hours before their flight arrives with an FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), performed using a nasal swab, and can show proof of negative test results from a CLIA certified laboratory. Travelers also will have their temperatures checked upon arrival and must fill out a travel and health form. Upon arrival in Hawai‘i, passengers unable to provide proof of an approved negative test will be required to go into quarantine for 14 days or until they can provide proof of negative test results.
Maj. Gen. Ken Hara, director, Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, continues his role as incident commander, spearheading the collaboration between federal, state and county resources to address the pandemic response.
Dr. Libby Char, director, State Department of Health, is responsible for the management of the state’s public health programs and collaboration between state, county, and private healthcare partners.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green will spearhead the pre-travel testing program, which includes adding partners to administer the tests and sourcing new testing options and is also responsible for planning the state’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy.
“This new leadership team gives us a stronger operational structure, stronger leadership, and clears the way for stronger partnerships between the public and private sectors,” said Gov. Ige.
Dr. Virginia Pressler, former director of the State Department of Health, has volunteered to lead the Laulima Alliance, a cross functional team of public and private sector resources, ensuring that all have a voice in policy making and implementation of programs responding to the pandemic.
“Together with the progress we’ve made, and continue to make, in the fight against COVID-19, this new leadership team gives us confidence that the time is right to launch our pre-travel COVID-19 testing program, which is an important step toward reviving our economy while continuing to protect public health,” said Gov. Ige.
Comments from the leadership team
Maj. Gen. Ken Hara, director, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency: “I look forward to a close partnership with director Char and Lt. Gov Green. Together, we can harness the proper resources at the federal, state and county levels and work with a greater sense of urgency and collaboration between the public and private sectors to implement the programs and processes that will allow us to manage the pandemic effectively.”
Dr. Libby Char, director, DOH: “I’m joining the State Department of Health at a time when our focus on public health is at a critical point. My top priority is to safeguard the health of our residents. The state doesn’t have the resources for all its needs in fighting COVID-19. No state does. That’s why it’s important for us to work hand in hand with government, private healthcare partners and the community to respond to the pandemic.”
Lt. Gov. Josh Green: “Mass testing, contact tracing and pre-travel testing programs are key measures I’ve long-supported. Their implementation, along with a vaccination plan for when they become available, will be critical to our success in managing the coronavirus. Maj. Gen. Hara and director Char are excellent leaders and I look forward to working with them in this capacity.”
Dr. Virginia Pressler, Laulima Alliance: “The COVID pandemic has touched every part of our communities – healthcare, housing, tourism, businesses of all sizes, education and government. Effective responses to COVID must be cross-industry and involve public and private partners. I look forward to collaborating with leaders from these areas so we can meet the challenges of this pandemic head on and implement solutions that will help put us on the road to recovery.”