Free test kits distribution continues on the North Shore

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    County workers pass out free at-home COVID-19 tests to Hanalei community members on Tuesday morning at the Hanalei Neighborhood Center.

  • Laurel Smith / The Garden Island

    A woman picks up five free at-home COVID-19 tests from the Hanalei Neighborhood Center on Tuesday morning. Daily at-home test distribution continues today through Friday at various community locations.

HANALEI — A line of people spiraled around the Hanalei Neighborhood Center Tuesday morning as community members waited to pick up free at-home COVID-19 tests.

Over 100 people picked up a pack of five tests just after the 9 a.m. opening. By 10 a.m., over 200 people had picked up 1,000 of the 1,500 total tests allotted for the site.

State Department of Health officials expected that the rest of the tests would be given out within an hour.

While the tests went out quickly, the DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office was far better able to meet demand in Hanalei than at the Kekaha distribution Monday, where they ran out of tests in a half hour.

Each of the 10 testing distribution sites will be given the same number of tests regardless of population, which comes out to about 1,500 home tests. According to KDHO officials, this was done in part to alleviate the testing disparities between rural and densely populated communities.

Tuesday, KDHO reported 186 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of active, recorded cases to 838, with nine hospitalized. To date, the county has recorded 9,374 cumulative cases.

Hanalei community members were grateful to have easy access to at-home testing.

“We’re so lucky because it’s hard to get tested in other places,” said Susan Baylock, who has heard from family and friends how hard it can be to get tested on other islands and the mainland.

For workers, having a local site made it possible for them to pick up the at-home tests.

Stone mason Joseph Rapozo was working just a few blocks away, and was able to take a quick break to pick up a test.

“It is very convenient,” Rapozo said.

Lizzi Sharp clutched her boxes of at-home tests when she got through the line.

“I’m just thrilled with this,” Sharp said.

For Sharp, who has limited access to transportation, free weekly testing offered at the Hanalei Neighborhood Center on Saturdays has been easy, and testing will now be even easier with the at-home tests. Getting her booster shot has been her main concern.

“There doesn’t seem like there is enough boosters on the North Shore,” said Sharp.

Numbers turning out for COVID-19 vaccines have waned island-wide.

“The demand (for vaccines) has been down and the demand for testing has gone up,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said at Tuesday’s giveaway. “We have the same team between testing and vaccines. The testing demand was astronomical. They pivoted their service to go and meet those demands.”

Still, vaccination clinics continue. On Thursday, Wilcox Health and Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation will host a walk-in mobile van for vaccination for everyone aged 12 and older at the Kekaha Neighborhood Center from 1 to 5 p.m.

On Saturday, Ho‘ola Lahui Hawai‘i will host two vaccine clinics open to those aged 5 and older, at Kanuikapono Public Charter School in Anahola and the Kekaha Neighborhood Center from 9 to 11 a.m. at both locations. No appointments are needed.

The county will distribute free at-home COVID-19 tests today at the Hanapepe Recreation Center from 9 a.m. to noon and Kalaheo Neighborhood Center from 1 to 4 p.m.; Thursday at the Anahola Clubhouse from 9 a.m. to noon and Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center from 1 to 4 p.m.; and Friday at the Koloa Neighborhood Center from 9 a.m. to noon and Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center from 1 to 4 p.m.

The tests are intended for those who live in the community they are being distributed in. All households are also eligible to receive four free at-home tests through the federal program at


Laurel Smith, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0424 or

  1. Kalehua January 27, 2022 5:46 pm Reply

    Aloha, I appreciate the efforts by our county to distribute free home tests. Today I got to the site in Kapa’a at 1:20 PM. They were All Gone. In 20 minutes!! Will there be more tests available for the east side? There are a lot of residents this area. It is not convenient to go to Koloa in the morning. Besides I thought they were supposed to be for the area you reside in.. is that true? thanks

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