City’s ambitious COVID-19 testing plan in limbo as state raises new concerns

Updated: Apr. 27, 2020 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Caldwell administration’s plan to ramp up coronavirus testing on Oahu is in limbo.

In a new letter, the state health director slams the company that the mayor chose to purchase $2 million worth of test kits from, saying it has a “history of problems.”

On Monday, both sides met — but what’s next for the program remains unclear.

In a two-page letter sent to Caldwell late Friday afternoon, Bruce Anderson blasts Everlywell, calling the company slow and overpriced compared to local labs.

He also knocked its reputation, citing specific complaints from top health officials in Los Angeles County whose experience working with the Texas-based firm was “not favorable.”

Anderson spoke openly about those issues during the governor’s press conference Saturday.

“They have a history in California of not telling the health authorities there about positive cases,” he said.

“At one point they simply refused to sent the results to them. In another case they sent spreadsheets that were confused with other cases in other counties.”

HNN asked the company about Anderson’s claims.

An Everlywell spokesperson responded, “At no point were there delays or interruptions in reporting positive and negative test results to the mandated local and federal agencies.”

Caldwell announced his plan to purchase 10,000 test kits last Tuesday. Community health centers would be responsible for using them.

Two days later, the mayor said the city heard good reports on the company but he put the project on hold due to Anderson’s concerns.

HNN requested comment from the Caldwell administration for this story early in the day. At the time this was published, HNN still had not received a response.

Over the weekend, Gov. David Ige issued a new order that limits the power of mayors when it comes to coordinating emergency response. The state confirms Caldwell would not need the governor’s permission to implement his testing initiative.

The state Health Department is raising new concerns about the city's proposed testing program.
The state Health Department is raising new concerns about the city's proposed testing program.(Health Department)
The city has not said what's next for the program.
The city has not said what's next for the program.(Health Department)

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