Demand for COVID testing surges on Oahu amid huge spike in cases

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 5:43 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Amid a huge spike in COVID-19 cases, the state Department of Health is working to add more testing sites to keep up with the demand.

Long lines have recently become a common sight at the Honolulu City and County’s testing site at the airport, which is overseen by the National Kidney Foundation of Hawaii Consortium.

According to Kelsey Kohagura, project director of Kidney Foundation Hawaii, roughly 1,200 people are tested per day.

He adds that it’s about a two-hour wait to get tested.

“Today is a lot longer, so I don’t think the line has died down at all,” said Kohagura. “So, our line kind of zigzags through the airport and then goes out on near the bus stop.”

Rogey Tolentino wanted to get tested after traveling to California.

“I was surprised to see how long the line was,” said Tolentino.

The line was wrapped around the street at Kaiser Permanente’s testing site in Mapunapuna.

Andrew Giles, assistant administrator of hospital operations and supports services, said over the last couple of weeks, demand soared.

“So, we’re expecting up to about 1,000 swabs to be done at this location today,” said Giles.

Darrah Kauhane, executive director of Project Vision Hawaii, which is a non-profit, said they’ve experienced a surge in requests.

“Our staff is working 12-to-16-hour days, and we’re just frustrated that the numbers continue to rise,” said Kauhane. “So, we’re begging people to get vaccinated to help us stop the spread.”

Dr. Libby Char, director of the Health Department, said in July, Hawaii was averaging between 1,000 to 2,000 tests a day.

Now, the state is seeing an average of 8,000 to 10,000 tests being given out daily.

“Right now, we know that there’s a lot of anxiety and with all these cases of COVID, and people who have been exposed, I know there’s a great demand for testing,” said Char. “So we are putting a ton of energy into ramping up testing.”

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