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Hundreds line up in Waianae for free at-home COVID test kits

Free COVID test distributions began popping up around the island on Saturday as hundreds lined up in Waianae to get a kit.
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 5:33 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Free COVID test distributions began popping up around the island on Saturday as hundreds lined up in Waianae to get a kit.

The at-home testing kits are part of the federal government’s effort to make COVID testing widely available across the country.

“We have been fighting with one hand tied behind our back and I think this is finally the solution,” said Jacob Schafer, epidemiologist and director of infectious diseases at Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center.

Since the pandemic began, health officials have said testing would be key to beating the virus, but it wasn’t always easy or accessible.

“A lot of the stores locally have run out of the test kits,” said state Rep. Stacelynn Eli.

“We know it is hard to make an appointment sometimes to get testing and to wait several days,” Schafer said. “Having your test kit at home to get a quick rapid result, 15-minute result, extremely accurate. This is how we stop people from spreading COVID.”

At a distribution site at Waianae Mall, some 90 volunteers, including National Guard members, distributed 25,000 test kits to over 4,700 families.

“This is really exciting, this is our first community distribution of at-home test kits. From an epidemiological perspective, I think this has really been the missing link in the state’s response. Really the whole country’s response in finally ending this pandemic,” Schafer said.

Each free kit supplied by the federal government and distributed by WCCHC has two tests. Officials said each family could get up to five kits.

“This is really personal to everyone that is here. These are our family members and community members that are driving through looking for these kits,” Eli said.

Doctors said at-home testing should be done even with mild symptoms — congestion, cough, body aches — and before or after any large gathering or possible exposure.

Health officials advise those with symptoms to follow state Health Department guidelines when returning to work.

Officials said more COVID test distribution sites will be popping up across the state in the next few weeks.

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