Test flight passengers scheduled to leave quarantine on Friday
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — ASG’s COVID Task Force is reporting a ‘false positive’ came back from one of the 137 passengers who came to the territory on the Aug. 30 test flight from Honolulu. The passenger tested positive on 9/3/21 but a follow up test using GeneXpert RTPCR yielded a negative result.
In a press release issued yesterday afternoon, the COVID Task Force confirmed that after the follow up test, all 137 passengers tested negative in two separate COVID tests while in quarantine at the Tradewinds Hotel.
The passengers, including two dialysis patients, will undergo one more COVID test today (September 9) before they can be released on Friday, Sept. 10th. If they are cleared and discharged on Friday, they will be monitored for two weeks for any symptoms and recommended to avoid crowded gatherings for one week as a precautionary measure.
Also in quarantine are 3 residents returning from New Zealand. The travel group, which included two patients and one caregiver, arrived on Friday, September 3, 2021 and are currently in quarantine at the Tradewinds Hotel in a separate wing from the Honolulu passengers. It is expected that the NZ passengers will also be released on Friday September 10 and subject to the same restrictions as the Honolulu passengers.
9/13/21 HAWAIIAN AIRLINES FLIGHT
A total of 246 passengers have been approved for the next flight from Hawaii on Sept. 13, 2021. However that number might decrease depending on the COVID-19 PCR tests for 226 that are currently under review.
This will be the first fully commercial flight whereby travelers are not required to undergo two weeks of quarantine in Honolulu. Instead, passengers are required to register in advance on the American Samoa’s online travel portal, Talofa Pass (talofapass.as.gov), and meet testing and travel requirements before they can be approved to enter American Samoa.
Residents on the outbound September 13th flight have been informed that registration through Hawaii’s Safe Travel Program –– which requires proof of a negative COVID-19 test –– is now mandatory to fulfill Hawaii’s entry requirements.
The contractor and government agencies involved with American Samoa online safe travel portal, Talofa Pass, continue to address and improve the user experience for those traveling to American Samoa.
Medicaid Director Sandra King-Young said since the system has been online for about two and a half weeks and they’ve been actively adjusting areas that need support. Employees of DataHouse Consulting, the Hawaii based firm that created Talofa Pass, came on the August 30th flight and are currently in quarantine. King-Young said the employees would be working on tightening up requirements that would help improve screening for the Department of Health.
So far, 662 people have registered on Talofa Pass for flights for Sept. 27th, one of two flights approved by ASG for the month of September. King-Young reports that there are some challenges but usually on the user end and they are working to improve that. For example, some users may be overwhelmed and accidently create more than one trip. King-Young said they are working through those types of issues in order to improve the web portal for travelers.
INCENTIVE PUSHES FULLY VACCINATED RATE TO 58.5%
Several thousands turned out to get a COVID-19 shot in the first five days of the $100 cash incentive program and a majority of them are newly vaccinated who are getting their first doses of the vaccine.
The incentive – which launched August 30th and awards a person $100 for getting a shot – has attracted large crowds to the point that the vaccination site at the ASG Executive Office Building (EOB) has been moved to the DYWA Center in Pago Pago to accommodate the masses. Residents jam packed the EOB blocking entrances to some government offices on the first floor.
On the first day of the incentive, 653 people were vaccinated – that’s more people than the vaccination teams saw in one day compared to the entire first two weeks of August at all their vaccination sites combined.
Data presented by the Department of Health, which is leading the vaccination efforts, shows that incentives do bring people out to the vaccination sites.
At the meeting of the COVID Task Force on Monday, Sept. 7th, 2021, Vaccination Chairwoman Dr. Francine Amoa says the raffle program that awarded cash prizes to residents in August created a surge of people coming out to get vaccinated. More than 1,100 people got a COVID shot on the week of August 8th-14th, when the vaccination concluded with a Protect AS One festival that weekend.
However the numbers again dropped below 1,000 for the following two weeks of August. That is, until the $100 cash awards rolled out and the numbers are now going up like never before.
From Aug. 30th to Sept. 3rd, a total of 2,164 doses were administered.
Dr. Amoa reported that 63.1% of those vaccinated got their first dose of the vaccine last week. The bulk of the age group that got vaccinated for the first time were those in the 12-15 age group, followed by the 16-20 age group. The incentive has also brought in residents who have completed their first doses and are long past due for their second doses.
As of Sept. 4th, 66.1% of American Samoa’s population has now received their first dose and 58.5% are now fully vaccinated. More than half of all age groups (ages 12 to 61 and older) are now fully vaccinated.
(Source: ASG COVID-19 Task Force)