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Sunday, May 17, 2020
Hawaii Wastes Thousands of COVID Testing Opportunities Every Day
By Andrew Walden @ 12:13 AM :: 2084 Views :: Economy, Health Care, Tourism, COVID-19

Hawaii Wastes Thousands of COVID Testing Opportunities Every Day

by Andrew Walden

Every day Hawaii wastes thousands of COVID testing opportunities.  Hawaii has a 5,000 test per day capacity, according to State Health Director Bruce Anderson, yet access to testing is restricted and day after day only a few hundred tests are performed.  Meanwhile, due to fear of the virus, many businesses remain closed even after receiving permission to reopen.  

The solution is simple:  Allow anybody who wants testing to get testing regardless of symptoms.

Dr. Eric Topol, head of San Diego’s Scripps Research Translational Institute tells the Associated Press, “Wasted tests at a time when we still have insufficient testing is really unfortunate.  The more people tested the better.”

Unrestricted testing has recently become available in the City of Los Angeles, the State of New Mexico and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.  Guam’s 14-day visitor quarantine is exempted for persons who can show a non-COVID-19 certificate issued within 72 hours of entry. 

Ken Lincoln, Sales and Marketing Manager at Diagnostic Laboratory Services tells Hawai’i Free Press: “DLS can provide COVID-19 testing services to employers/companies that are working with a Medical Doctor or an approved Ordering Provider within the state of Hawaii.”

But Doctors are only allowed to prescribe COVID testing to symptomatic persons.  Queens Hospital COVID testing guidance dated May 1, 2020, focuses tests on patients with a fever over 100.3F, other symptoms, and possible exposure. 

There is some progress, within the last few days Hilo and Kona hospitals have begun COVID testing for all hospital admissions. 

East Hawaii urgent care Dr. Edward Gutteling explains, “Hilo and Kea'au Urgent Care clinics have been performing naso-pharyngeal COVID-19 antigen (virus) tests on the Big Island since they were first available by Clinical Labs Hawaii on 12 March, 2020. Due to a limited number of tests available, they were rationed and performed only under the criteria of DOH, to those where they would have the greatest impact. 

“Since then, criteria have been expanded to include more and more individuals, but we are still cautioned by Hawaii DoH and US CDC not to perform them on individuals who are either 1) without symptoms, or 2) considered high-risk by virtue of their jobs or travel or exposure to other infected individuals. To our knowledge, that is still the case, and we are asked not to perform the test on all-comers, such as an entire job workforce, if not indicated.

“The Hilo and Kea'au Urgent Care Clinics have been performing finger-stick COVID-19 antibody tests on anyone who wants one since 7 April, 2020.” 

An April survey of Hawaii healthcare workers shows that most want to be tested for COVID, about 15% report having been denied a test and most feel there are barriers to getting tested as a health care worker.

Anti-body test results released May 15, 2020, by Hawaii Pacific Health, reveal only 19 antibody positive results out of 3,296 healthcare workers tested.

By expanding demand for testing, Hawaii’s two primary testing labs would have a reason to expand their capacity to perform tests.  This will help Hawaii to prepare for any future emergency and also for the reopening of tourism.  The more testing we perform, the more positives will be caught and quarantined to reduce transmission. 

Meanwhile, local businesses could provide employee testing to give workers peace of mind about coming back to work.  Doctors, dentists and other health providers could prescribe COVID tests prior to patient appointments to help create greater confidence in restoring normal medical practices which have gone to the wayside during the COVID scare—sometimes with deadly results.

Open testing can begin today.  We don’t need political insiders to concoct some grandiose scheme or an Orwellian database.  All Hawaii’s elected leaders have to do is say ‘yes’. 

---30---

Background:

May 2, 2020: A Low-Risk Plan to Re-Start Hawaii Tourism Now

May 5, 2020: Head of State Emergency Response Says Health Department Dragging Feet On Expanding Contact Tracing

May 6, 2020: Star-Adv: How to Test Tourists for COVID

May 7, 2020: Hawaii Tourism Industry Pushing for Testing as Alternative to Quarantine

Queens: GUIDANCE ON COVID TESTING

May 12, 2020: Hilo hospital eyes testing for all admissions

May 13, 2020: Kona Community Hospital to begin testing all admitted patients

May 16, 2020: Los Angeles is 1st major U.S. city to offer free coronavirus tests to all residents 

AP: White House recommends tests for all nursing home residents

New Mexico expands free COVID-19 testing to all workers in state

CNMI begins COVID-19 testing for all

Guam: Compulsory quarantine for 14 days is required only for persons who do not hold non-COVID-19 certificate issued by 72 hours before entry.

AP: China may test all of Wuhan amid fears of coronavirus comeback  (11M tests in 10 days)

WSJ: How Germany Kept Its Factories Open During the Pandemic -- Strict safety rules, testing and contact tracing enabled plants to keep running without major outbreaks

Reason: The failure to conduct early and wide testing left politicians ignorant of basic facts about the COVID-19 epidemic.

Grassroot: How FDA and CDC aided coronavirus meltdown

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