Minnesota couple separated after Hawaii refuses to accept negative Mayo Clinic COVID-19 test
(FOX 9) - Hawaii is the dream vacation offering lots of sun, beaches, and warm weather.
Travelers love it because you have access to luxury without flying international.
However, to get to Hawaii, you need a negative COVID-19 test. But, it cannot be from the Mayo Clinic, as one Minnesota couple recently found out.
Joan and Grant Christianson are now in two different states because Hawaii doesn’t list the Mayo Clinic as one of its "trusted partners."
"We said, ‘But it’s the Mayo Clinic, [one] of the biggest research labs in the United States," said Joan.
It was supposed to be the dream vacation for the Christianson’s after an emotional 2020.
"We had a very stressful year," Joan stated. "My family had a lot of deaths, including my 50-year-old sister and my dad."
The trip has turned into a nightmare, where they have more questions than answers.
"My COVID-19 test was from Walgreen's lab where I sat in the car and swabbed my own nose, and Hawaii accepted that," said Joan. "My husband’s test was taken at a hospital by a registered nurse and yet it was denied as a non-trusted partner."
Hawaii does not offer testing to travelers so, the only option for Grant was to sleep in the car overnight and then fly to Los Angeles the next morning for a test in the airport because the hotel would not issue a key without proof that he was cleared to stay.
They reached out to their state representative, Rep. Dave Baker (R-Willmar), who said he is disappointed with how Hawaiian authorities handled the situation.
"The most trusted partner in the world is Mayo Clinic and how it isn't part of the trusted lab result is shocking to us," he told FOX 9. "I get the understanding of making sure people are safe but [they could’ve] picked up the phone and asked the Mayo Clinic. You would think there would be a better process to do this."
A spokesperson from the Minnesota Department of Health told FOX 9 in a statement that it has heard the same reports and are "in contact with both the Mayo Clinic and Hawaii state officials to see what can be done."
In an email, a spokesperson from Mayo Clinic Laboratories stated, "As part of its COVID-19 protocol, the state of Hawaii requires all individuals arriving to test negative for SARS-CoV-2. As part of the state’s rules and regulations, specific laboratories have been designated as ‘trusted partners.’ This status is granted based on government filings, not the safety or quality of the testing. At this time, Mayo Clinic Laboratories have not been granted 'trusted partner' status in Hawaii. We continuously evaluate the various requirements for COVID-19 testing to ensure all patients have access to high-quality testing."
As for Joan, she is hoping to have her husband back on the island before Valentine’s Day. He plans to travel back to Hawaii after he gets the negative test result from a test site near LAX.
"The insanity is that we allow people from all over to come to get treated at the Mayo Clinic but it’s not accepted in Hawaii. I just made the assumption that the Mayo Clinic lab would be a trusted lab," said Joan. "It’s our first time back in 30 years. I don’t think I can convince him to come back here again."
A spokesperson from Hawaii’s Attorney General Office stated over the phone that the only way of possibly getting around the testing requirement from its trusted partners is by applying for an exception online. If you do not have it, you will have to adhere to strict quarantine, which means you are confined in your accommodations for 10 days.