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Kona drive-thru clinic for coronavirus testing to be held Monday

A pop-up, drive-thru clinic will be operational at Old Kona Airport Park on Monday to provide testing for the COVID-19 illness.

The one-day clinic in Kona will be held from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is open to the public, according to a news release today from Mayor Harry Kim’s office, but individuals who want to be tested will undergo an initial screening first to determine if they meet the criteria to get tested.

“To beat this, the key is to screen, screen, screen,” said Scott Miscovich, president and founder of Premier Medical Group Hawaii, in Kim’s news release.

Miscovich led the efforts of a drive-thru testing site for the coronavirus in Kakaako, Oahu, where over 1,000 people showed up to get tested. Only about a quarter of them passed the initial screening, and did so because their jobs put them at risk of being in contact with someone who has the coronavirus. It is not clear what the initial screening for the Kona clinic will be.

Hawaii County’s COVID-19 Task Force, Premier Medical Group Hawaii and the nonprofit HOPE Services Hawaii are leading the clinic.

While the Kakaako clinic’s focus was on those whose jobs put them at risk, the Kona clinic will be focused on rural communities, according to the news release.

One population on Hawaii island in need of screening is the homeless population.

Brandee Menino, Chief Executive Officer of HOPE Services Hawaii, said the nonprofit is doing surveillance on about 50 homeless individuals on Hawaii island it could eventually refer to be screened for the coronavirus.

“Nobody’s been focusing on the homeless communities,” Menino said via telephone. “We know that they haven’t traveled, but we know they’re around tourists destinations, so they’re around people who have traveled from afar, and these are folks who already have compromised health conditions or are elderly.”

Menino said HOPE Services Hawaii has been educating the homeless population on island about the COVID-19 illness.

“We’ve already been (doing surveillance) our high-risk group, those who are 60 and over or those already with preexisting health conditions, so we’re going to check on them to see if they’re exhibiting any symptoms and then refer them to get screened,” she said.

For Monday’s clinic in Kona, those who show up to the screening will be asked to show their ID and a health insurance card, although health insurance is not required.

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