The Refuge Manager stated Volunteers from the Mainland are first required to spend 14 days in Hawaii, then proceed to Midway and spent another 14 days in quarantine. This is totally false. Travelers who first arrive in Hawaii, then transfer to an alternate destination are not required to spend 14 days in Hawaii. In addition, four Volunteers (with this same group) did travel from the Mainland, then flew directly to Midway. Per Midway Residents, those same Volunteers were not quarantined on Midway and immediately gathered at large group functions, during Covid times.
The Volunteer who was denied access, was likely found to have an interest in Midway’s Historic Preservation – as confirmed via his social media postings.
Letter from USFWS refuge manager;
From: Clark, Timothy B [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, July 06, 2020 11:23 PM
To: Undisclosed recipients:
Subject: New Midway COVID quarantine restrictions
Thank you for applying to be a biological volunteer at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. We greatly appreciate the effort you have taken to put in an application, and your willingness to donate your time and energy to help conserve the wildlife and habitat at Midway. Unfortunately, we are in a difficult position this year with COVID-19. We currently do not have COVID on Midway, and have limited abilities to treat infected individuals on island. In order to keep the island residents safe, we have to take drastic actions to minimize the risk of infected individuals coming to the island. With the recent spike in cases across the US, we are now only allowing people from Hawaii to come to Midway. What this means for the volunteer position is that we can only accept volunteers currently living in Hawaii, or people who have been in Hawaii for at least 14 days. Volunteers chosen to come to Midway will then need to spend an additional 14 days in quarantine on Midway before being allowed to interact with the rest of the island community. We feel this minimizes the chance of a COVID infected individuals getting on the plane, and ensures that those arriving on Midway do not have COVID before they socialize with other residents.
Given this information, would you please answer the following questions:
- Are you still interested in a volunteer position at Midway? Yes.
- Would you be able to spend 14 days in Hawaii before coming to Midway? We do not have funds to pay for your stay, so you would have to fund your own food and lodging during this time. No. Can’t USFWS at least put us up at Pearl Harbor or one of the other military bases on Oahu?
- Are you willing to spend 14 days in quarantine once you reach Midway? You would have to stay within 30 feet of you residence, meals would be delivered to your house, there would be a TV in the house and plenty of free time to read books, and you may have 1-2 other people in quarantine with whom you could socialize. No. Ok, so there goes an entire month out of six months already wasted…or are you planning on us staying on the island for an additional six months after the wasted month? Is there any type of recreation on the island anymore?
I am terribly sorry for having to put this burden on you, but our top priority is the safety of our Midway staff, contractors, and volunteers. I hope COVID will go down soon and we can resume normal operations, but until then we will be doing everything we can to keep Midway COVID free.
USFWS is a federally funded program and must have budgeted funds in their coffers. I retired from the US Postal Service, which does not take one penny of federal money, but the Postal Service would never treat volunteers this way, especially given the magnitude of the sacrifice we were willing to make. I was so looking forward to seeing the atoll again and working on restoration projects. Look me up when COVID-19 has passed. I doubt you will get many takers under these conditions.
Tim Clark, PhD
Acting Deputy Refuge Manager
Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge
Battle of Midway National Memorial”