COVID-19 testing options limited throughout island

  • Laurel Smith/ The Garden Island

    Children play at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center playground on Thursday morning as people line up for rapid COVID-19 tests from the county’s mobile testing van. The testing site ran out of the 100 daily testing tickets just 30 minutes after opening

KILAUEA — Thursday, the Hawai‘i State Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office announced 342 new cases of COVID-19, which brought the number of active, recorded cases to 1,089, with six hospitalized.

To date, the county has recorded 6,558 cumulative cases, during a most recent surge that has put restraints on testing.

After sunrise yesterday morning, people had already begun lining up for COVID-19 testing at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center parking lot. By 9 a.m., when testing began, 82 of 100 tickets for tests had already been given out. A half-hour later test seekers were turned away.

Finding testing island-wide has been a challenge with reports of people waiting in line for up to four hours at some testing sites. The North Shore has limited free testing just two days a week through a mobile testing van in Hanalei on Saturdays and Kilauea on Thursdays.

For some residents, the testing at Kilauea Neighborhood Center was the most convenient option. People came prepared to arrive early, some even brought beach chairs to sit in while they wait.

Cynthia Albatrosov lives on the North Shore but works in Lihu‘e.

“I am really glad to have testing here,” Albatrosov said. “I refuse to stay in line in Lihu‘e for hours.”

Residents came seeking shorter testing lines. In Kilauea, the testing line moved through most people between an hour and a half and two hours. People had the option of leaving and coming back later once they receive a ticket, as they do at all mobile testing locations and the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall testing center in Lihu‘e.

County testing sites are available for close contacts of positive cases, but there are few options for those with symptoms.

“Those who are asymptomatic, even if they are close contacts, can test at the county’s testing sites,” District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said in a written statement. “We prefer that anyone with symptoms test at a drive-thru site, to minimize potential exposures of others. Anyone symptomatic who can’t easily find a test should assume they have COVID and isolate and inform contacts accordingly.”

The mobile testing van is not intended to test close contacts of positive cases or people with symptoms of COVID-19 according to the county website, however, with no free drive-up testing options on the North Shore, many individuals at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center reported either being a close contact or feeling sick.

The Makana Urgent Care Center in Princeville can test close contacts and symptomatic individuals but does not have free testing. Insurance will pick up most of the cost for those insured, but the center can only test about 30 people per day and an appointment is required.

Limited testing availability comes at a financial cost for many workers.

Workers in line expressed frustration that they were missing several hours of work unpaid to get tested and wait for results. Multiple people said they were losing wages even though they were exposed on the job.

“If your employer doesn’t give you PTO time then you are suffering,” said Virginia Salcido who came up from Anahola to get tested. “There should be paid time to get tested, it’s just a vicious cycle.”

Kamalei Ah Yune drove up from Kapa‘a and was getting tested after multiple exposures to COVID at both of her places of employment. She said that her children were also exposed at their schools.

She needed a negative test result for her employer before returning to work. She said that the time off work will be noticeable in her paycheck and was grateful that the mobile testing center offered rapid testing.

“Hopefully within a few hours I can get the results to my employer,” Ah Yune said.

People who were turned away might not get tested at all.

Raymond Jacobus came to the testing van with his wife because she was feeling under the weather. They were both turned away at 10:15 a.m., and were advised that they would likely not be able to secure a test in Lihu‘e either this late in this morning.

Jacobus said they may try Lihu‘e tomorrow but said it might just be too much if he and his wife if they are not feeling well tomorrow morning.

“We felt we needed (testing) today, but they are already out,” said Jacobus. “That’s very disappointing.”

In response to high demand for testing and limited supply island-wide KHDO issued the following additional guidance on Wednesday:

If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and you are experiencing symptoms, get a test if you can easily do so. If you can’t easily get tested, assume that you have COVID-19 even without getting a test. If this pertains to you, please follow DOH guidelines and isolate at home for at least 5 days if your fever is gone and symptoms are improving, or up to 10 days if fever persists or symptoms worsen. Let your close contacts know, and let your employer know.

If you are feeling sick and have access to a home test kit, a home test is a good option. If your test is positive, it is very reliable, and you are advised to follow DOH guidelines as stated above. If your test is negative, you should repeat the home test in a couple of days, as it may take a few days for COVID-19 to be detected on a home test.

If you test positive, you do not need to get another test. Doing so uses valuable resources and does not change what you need to do: isolate per DOH guidelines as stated above.

PCR testing should not be repeated in the 90 days following a positive test, as someone can continue to test positive for up to 90 days after being infected. Therefore, requiring a negative test in order to return to work is not appropriate. The only time someone should re-test in that 90-day interval is if new symptoms arise after they have recovered, because it is possible to be re-infected.

Across the island, pediatric vaccines are also available at Walmart, Longs Drugs at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e, Kaiser Permanente Lihu‘e Clinic and Wilcox Medical Center.

The Kaua‘i Mobile COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic will be at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center on Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m. This clinic will offer walk-in vaccinations for those aged 12 and older for first and second doses. Third doses and booster shots will also be available. Vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 will not be offered at this clinic.

A list of vaccination options is available at kauai.gov/vaccine.

The convention hall is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for testing.

Appointments for free, drive-thru testing at Lihu‘e Pharmacy can be made at alohaclear.com.

Testing locations can be found at kauai.gov/covidtest.

4 Comments
  1. bidenharris 2024 January 14, 2022 12:36 am Reply

    will the home test kits available at longs be okay by employers or school administration?


  2. That Lady January 14, 2022 7:36 am Reply

    So, we are testing all these people who are not sick, but people who are sick can’t get tested?

    Genius!


  3. Ahem January 14, 2022 8:09 am Reply

    What am absolute joke regarding test, vaccines and doh operations. They all had the better part of 2 years and essentially unlimited funding. What did they do? Where did they go? PCR tests were deemed unreliable for testing infection of any virus before this whole pandemic. Absolutely unacceptable. Bunch of clowns running the show. People….c’mon.


  4. CommonSenseish January 14, 2022 9:30 am Reply

    I am sure I’m not the only person that DOESN’T CARE. Why not give everyone the full details?
    How many vaccinated, double vaccinated, boosted? How many have underlying conditions? Age ranges? They really should also count this based on households, anyone who lives here knows a single family house here has a good chance of containing 2-3 generations, 7+ people. Ofcourse if one gets it, the odds are high.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.