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Next medical flight finalized — including “quarantine exemption”

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Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — American Samoa is requesting a “quarantine exemption” waiver from the Hawaii state government for all passengers arriving in Honolulu on the Jan. 13th medical charter flight — while at the same time, Hawaii authorities are requesting accommodation information in Honolulu for passengers transiting to the US mainland.

The Medicaid office announced Monday morning this week that the medical charter flight by Hawaiian Airlines — flight #922 — departs Pago Pago at 3:50p.m. arriving in Honolulu at 10:20p.m.

This means most passengers transiting to the US mainland will have to overnight in Honolulu for flights the next day.

Medicaid director Sandra King-Young told Samoa News yesterday morning that her office was contacted Tuesday afternoon by Hawaii authorities about required accommodation information in Honolulu for passengers transiting to the US since they will overnight there.

The Medicaid office immediately sent out an announcement on its Facebook late Tuesday and to local radio stations about “urgent information needed” for all charter flight passengers transiting to the mainland to “immediately” call the Medicaid office yesterday between 8am. and 12noon “to provide accommodations info for HI State Government Quarantine Exemption. This is a new information requirement that just came in from the State of Hawaii.”

“Because the flight is scheduled to arrive around 10:30pm, most transit passengers are overnighting in Honolulu,” it says noting that if the passenger is staying with family or at a hotel, the “address is needed to complete the list that will be submitted to the State of Hawaii to acquire the quarantine exemption.”

“This will allow passengers to not have to quarantine upon arrival because passengers are traveling from a COVID free jurisdiction,” it says.

Hawaii’s governor had granted a previous quarantine exemption request from then Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for last year’s medical charter flights.

Samoa News understands that the flight departure times out of Pago Pago are based on the airline’s time schedule and that in the last two charter flights, each one was delayed for about two hours due to the many patients needing wheelchair assistance.

Meanwhile, the Medicaid Office reminds all passengers on the medical charter about the second shots for the COVID vaccine that are due this week, starting today, Jan. 7th.

All shots will be given at the LBJ Hospital at the same location next to the records office.  Following is the schedule for the 2nd shots:

If you received your 1st shot on:

•    Dec. 20 — come on Thursday, Jan. 7 from 8AM to 12PM

•    Dec. 21 — come on Friday, Jan. 8 from 8AM to 12PM

•    Dec. 22 and 23 — come on Saturday, Jan. 9 from 8AM to 12PM

There have been questions on whether passengers, who are returning US residents can also get the vaccine before leaving here.

But Medicaid Office said it has made clear to those who contact their office on this same issue that the only ones given the vaccine are patients and their escorts as well as local students heading to colleges. “These passengers are considered local residents and will return home in the future,” the office said, adding this decision by local officials was due to the fact that there is a limited supply of vaccine sent to American Samoa.

The Medicaid office is available to assist passengers complete their paperwork for travel. And no passengers can be confirmed for the charter flight until all medical and travel documents are in order and passengers needing to pay the cost-share have made payment to ASG Treasury.

Non-patient cost-share for the medical charter — which is now re-scheduled for Jan. 13, 2021 — is $911 for the one-way flight. (See Dec. 23, 2020 Samoa News edition for details.)

For more information call Medicaid Office at 699-4777 or check the American Samoa Medicaid State Agency Facebook page for the latest update.