Who should be tested for COVID-19? Not even the lieutenant governor and DOH appear to agree

Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 5:36 PM HST|Updated: Apr. 7, 2020 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lt. Gov. Josh Green on Tuesday urged his fellow healthcare providers to take coronavirus testing to the next level.

“I want you to test all intimate contacts of all people who are COVID positive,” said Green, who is also a physician. “If they kissed them. You test them. That’s what I want to see.”

Green later told Hawaii News Now in an interview that he wants everyone who’s had very close contact with a COVID-19 patient to be swabbed — even if they don’t have symptoms.

“If it’s your spouse, if it’s your children, if it’s your best friend, if it’s your workers that you hug and kiss — you got to test them,” Green said.

The lieutenant governor’s guidance seems to conflict with the state Department of Health’s ever-changing policy.

Over the past several weeks, the state’s director of Health has flip-flopped on who should be tested.

On March 20, during an interview on PBS Insights, Director Bruce Anderson said there’s "no value in testing someone who is asymptomatic. There’s zero.”

Then, during a news conference on April 3, he told reporters: "We’ve begun to look at those who are close contacts, even though they have not expressed symptoms.

On Tuesday, HNN asked the state for a response to Green’s guidance. There was no response.

On Monday, however, the department told HNN only people with symptoms should be swabbed.

In the meantime, Green says expanded testing is in the state’s best interest as long as the resources are there. Adding similar measures worked to prevent community spread in places like Singapore and Taiwan.

“Today we only have 23 new cases,” said Green. “If we tested the six or eight people who are their intimate contacts, it’s nothing. It’s like 120 people. We have 1,500 tests available to us every day.

"That’s how we lock those people down. Make sure they don’t spread it further.”

The health director has said his department barely has the resources to track down and interview the contacts.

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