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Strong demand seen for free COVID-19 tests at Kalihi public housing project

Officials say the turnout was twice as much as the number of registrations
Officials say the turnout was twice as much as the number of registrations(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Sep. 3, 2020 at 10:59 AM HST|Updated: Sep. 3, 2020 at 11:02 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The effort to mass test residents for COVID-19 in Hawaii’s public housing is expanding.

On Wednesday, there was strong turnout for free testing at Kuhio Park Terrace in Kalihi. Hawaii Public Housing Authority officials say the number of people who got tested won’t be available until Thursday.

But Honolulu Fire Department officials say the turnout was twice the number of registrations.

Capt. Jason Mejia said firefighters, police officers, nurses, national guardsmen, interpreters and KPT staff all assisted. “Not only get them through it, but to make people feel comfortable about doing it. It’s not a very comfortable situation for some people. A lot of people are nervous,” said Mejia.

KPT resident Honeylani Irons says she’s grateful free COVID-19 tests came to her neighborhood.

“I think it’s good because so that they make sure that everybody is healthy,” Irons said. “I feel scared, but I have faith in God.”

The mass testing is part of the state’s surge testing program.

The head of Hawaii’s Public Housing Authority said he was offered up to 20,000 tests for his residents.

“When you have close to 10,000 units with over 40,000 tenants, the concern always is a cluster and how we’re able to manage it properly,” said Executive Director Hakim Ouansafi.

Ouansafi said he is aware of 50 current active cases out of 40,000 residents statewide and 73 total cases since the start of the pandemic.

Ouansafi said they have options for residents who can’t properly isolate at home.

“We’re able to give them additional units to separate the folks and the city and county as well as the state are able to put them in a hotel just to keep the community as safe as we possibly can,” Ouansafi said.

HPHA is aware of 16 active cases at KPT.

Security guards there have been tested as a precaution.

“Just for the safety,” said Gyneria Sala. “We deal with close contact kind of things. So, I just wanted to be on the safe side and I just got tested.”

For more information on testing sites, click here.

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