Gov: American Samoa will not reopen borders with Hawaii in July
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — With the recent increase in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hawaii — surpassing the 700 mark — Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said during the government’s coronavirus task force meeting that he is not prepared, at this point, to re-open air service between Honolulu and Pago Pago.
The governor’s reaction came during the Health Department’s presentation at Sunday’s task force meeting giving a brief overview of COVID-19 globally as well as in the US. Hawaii last week had a surge in COVID-19 confirmed case.
The DoH presentation also looked at the Pacific region, including New Zealand, which had declared itself coronavirus free after the last case went through a required quarantine period and there hadn’t been any new cases at the time of the DoH presentation. The governor acknowledged this situation in New Zealand.
However, New Zealand authorities on Wednesday (Tuesday local time) announced it’s no longer COVID-19 free, after two women from England, who were in the country to visit a relative, tested positive for the virus.
In the meantime, Samoa News has received information that the governor met yesterday morning with DoH officials along with a local representative of Hawaiian Airlines, where the governor noted the rise in coronavirus cases in Hawaii and plans to extend the suspension of flights between Honolulu and Pago Pago to the beginning of August.
Hawaii state Health Department data posted on its website, shows that four new cases were recorded on Tuesday this week, bringing the total positive cases to 740 while fatalities remains at 17.
Last Friday, Hawaii health officials told reporters in Honolulu that 15 people — including 10 from the same household — were tested positive of the virus and it was the largest single-day increase in about two months, according to The Associated Press, which also reported that as of Friday there were 706 confirmed cases.
The AP reports that the 10 people were part of the same 14-member household on Oahu where one of the members had tested positive a few days earlier. The family lives in close proximity in a two-bedroom home that made it difficult for them to keep their distance.
TASK FORCE MEETING
At the task force meeting, the governor said that at this point, he is not prepared to reopen borders with the resumption of Hawaiian Airlines flight following the new increase in cases out of Hawaii.
He said the data presented by DoH, doesn’t convince him to re-open borders unless there’s a major drop in cases in Hawaii and the current situation is concerning.
Hawaii has “surpassed 700 cases, so that pretty much tells us that we are not ready to re-open borders with Hawaii,” the governor pointed out and urged local health officials to closely monitor the coronavirus situation in the Aloha State.
Lolo also noted that the only reason American Samoa doesn’t have a confirmed case is that its borders have been closed since late March, with the suspension of Hawaiian Airlines flights on March 26.
The current flight suspension expires on June 30th.
Others who attended the task force meeting point out that Hawaii has started to relax some COVID-19 restrictions.
Some of the restrictions relaxed already is the gradual re-opening of retailers and businesses, lifting the14-day quarantine mandate this week for inter island travel, but the state’s required 14-quarantine for all arrivals from outside has been extended, according to the AP and other news outlets.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige told reporters Friday that he expected the number of cases to increase as the state begins to reopen businesses.