HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cars lined lanes in both directions of the H-3 Freeway on Tuesday for a huge COVID-19 testing effort that’s scheduled to be repeated Thursday.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Gov. David Ige said the freeway testing event “can handle many people” without impacting traffic flow and he was pleased with the early turnout.
But he urged more people to come out for a free test.
“We really want to encourage the public if you are curious, if you want to know if you are COVID-positive, this is the opportunity to do it,” Ige said. “You don’t need a reason to get tested.”
The H-3 Freeway was closed in both directions through 6 p.m. for the multi-agency effort, in which authorities hope to test thousands of people in a single day.
Some 1,700 people had pre-registered for the event.
The tests are being offered through a federally-backed “surge” effort, designed to get a better understanding of how widespread COVID-19 is in the community.
Participants need not have symptoms or a doctor’s recommendation to get a test.
Some 90,000 tests have been made available to the state through the surge testing program.
Officials said while there were lines at the H-3 Freeway on Tuesday, they were moving relatively quickly. It was taking about 30 minutes to get through the testing site about noon.
According to the deputy Highways Director Ed Sniffen, there were 30 registration stations along the freeway and 50 test stations for people coming from both the windward side and from the west.
Another H-3 Freeway testing event is scheduled for Thursday, with entrances opened at 8:30 a.m. To register for a test, which is recommended but not required, go to doineedacovid19test.com.
People are encouraged to carpool if possible.
Using the H-3 as a testing site, as part of the mass COVID-19 testing initiative, appears to be a response to traffic issues that plagued some earlier testing sites.
“Testing on the H-3 is a historic, first ever endeavor that will make a significant difference in getting more people tested,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “This will be made possible by all of our Federal, State, and County teams working together to make sure traffic in and out of these sites can flow smoothly.”