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Free virus testing starts

LIHU‘E — Cale Akuna said the free self test for COVID-19 makes you want to sneeze Sunday as he and MJ Akuna got help from Dr. Janet Berreman, district health officer with the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office, at Vidinha Stadium.

The County of Kaua‘i, in partnership with the DOH, launched a free COVID-19 surge-testing program that will be available every Sunday through the end of December at various locations on Kaua‘i.

“Free testing is open to everyone, regardless of health insurance or symptoms,” said Mayor Derek Kawakami. “We want to encourage our hospitality-industry staff who work closely with visitors to get tested, to help protect their family and our entire community.”

Hospitality staff includes individuals of all ages working at hotels, restaurants and bars, tour companies, transportation companies and more. The testing is also available to those with poor access to COVID-19 testing.

Because of his exposure at the airport, Kaua‘i Police Department officer Bobby Thompson was able to take time on his shift with the Lihu‘e Airport detail to get his self test done with the help of the DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office public-health nurses.

“These tests are free to everyone,” Kawakami said. “This includes those who are under- or uninsured.”

These tests are not part of the state’s pre-travel testing program, and the results cannot be used for quarantine exemptions. For more information on pre-travel testing, visit hawaiicovid19.com/travel.

The surge-testing program is separate from the previously-announced, post-travel-testing program for out-of-state travelers. For more information on post-travel testing, visit kauai.go/visitorpost test. For Kaua‘i residents returning from travel, visit kauai.gov/residentposttest.

Berreman, Elton Ushio with the Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency, Solomon Kanoho with the Kaua‘i Fire Department, and Patrick Porter of the county’s Department of Parks &Recreation oversaw the opening day.

“These are the same tests being administered on O‘ahu and the other islands,” Kanoho said. “We just brought it to Kaua‘‘i.”

The tests will rotate through sites in Lihu‘e, Kapa‘a and Hanapepe from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each Sunday through the end of 2020.

Next Sunday, Nov. 15, testing takes place at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex in Kapa‘a, and on Nov. 22 testing takes place at Hanapepe Stadium before rotating back to Vidinha Stadium Nov. 29.

“Everything worked smoothly,” Berreman said of opening day. “There was a line at the start, but everything worked like a well-oiled machine.”

Participants are asked to register ahead of testing at doineedacovid19test.com, and bring their confirmation when arriving on site for testing. A limited number of on-site registrations will be available at all sites for people who are unable to register online.

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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