As COVID surge drags on, supplies of at-home testing kits in Hawaii run short

Finding tests in the local pharmacy is nearly impossible in some communities.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:21 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 13, 2022 at 5:32 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the early days of the pandemic, there was a shortage of masks.

Now, amid the COVID surge, there’s a shortage of at-home testing kits.

Dr. Jason Ching is CEO of Aiden Health on Oahu, which sells over-the-counter rapid tests.

“Basically, it’s what you can get your hands on these days,” he said.

With just a few swabs, a test vial and drops into a cartridge, results are ready in 15 minutes.

That’s the fast part, but Ching says deliveries of home tests to Hawaii during the Omicron surge have faced delays.

“First reaction is stressful. I contacted my partners a week ago and every day it changes with the supply and demand,” said Ching.

C. Joel Enterprises in California expects to deliver a pallet of home tests to Ching’s company next week.

“Luckily, we do have a good connection where the supplier is helping us out,” said Annie Park, CEO of C. Joel Enterprises.

But the company predicts nationwide shortages of home tests may not ease up until March or April.

“Until this flu season dies out a little bit, I think the COVID test kit is going to be in a shortage for the next three months,” said Joel Chun, managing director of C. Joel Enterprises.

On Thursday, President Biden announced that the administration will double its purchase of home tests for an additional 500 million tests to give out for free. With the federal government ramping up its purchases, that could compete with others in the market for tests.

“It’s almost impossible at this minute to get any product into our warehouse to ship it out to Hawaii,” said Chun.

Despite this latest pandemic challenge, Ching sees this as another test of resiliency.

“There’s a lot of anxiety right now so I told my team it’s another test another way where we can get back to some sort of normal,” he said.

Experts say when ordering online, stick to reputable, well-known companies and make sure the tests are FDA-approved.

Starting this weekend, insurance companies will reimburse you for eight home test kits per month and the Biden administration pledged to have a website up to order free tests.

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