Mayor Kirk Caldwell said today that he is holding off on spending $2 million to purchase 10,000 coronavirus test kits after the state Department of Health raised strong objections.
The mayor had announced Tuesday that he was negotiating a deal with Texas-based company EverlyWell to provide “fast-testing” kits that were to be transported by UPS. The tests were to be distributed to up to seven Oahu community health centers that cater largely to the uninsured or underinsured communities.
The Health Department, however, sent a letter to the city Wednesday afternoon raising concerns, Caldwell said.
“The Department of Health yesterday informed us that it is objecting to the city doing this,” the mayor said. “We strongly disagree with the Department of Health on this but we will be holding off for a short period … so that we can discuss this with the Department of Health before proceeding.”
“EverlyWell is already providing testing to other municipalities and cities like the second largest city in the country, the city of Los Angeles,” Caldwell said.
“The City and County of Honolulu believes testing is necessary in order to get the information we need to protect the health of our community,” Caldwell said. “The city also believes that testing is necessary in order to open up the economy in a very safe way.”
No money has yet been spent on the purchase of the equipment and on contract has been issued, Caldwell said.
The mayor also announced that he is considering certain activities that until now have been non-essential to open up for business under a new order he expects to sign next week.
Those activities under consideration are golfing at golf courses, limited operations of car dealerships and real estate companies, and other smaller businesses such as a piano teacher with a single student at a time, Caldwell said.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell is holding a press conference today to outline modifications to his stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.
No other speakers for the conference are listed on a city press release.
Watch the livestream video above.
Editor’s Note: This story is developing and will be updated as soon as more information becomes available.