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Honolulu to ramp up coronavirus testing to over 100,000 tests, Mayor Kirk Caldwell says

Mayor Kirk Caldwell said today the city will ramp up testing of the coronavirus to more than 100,000 tests.

“We should test, test and do more testing,” Caldwell said at a news conference in Kakaako. “It’s the way we open up.”

He said the safest way to loosens city restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus is by testing, contact tracing and isolation. The city began allowing most retailers to join essential businesses in reopening last Friday and is on track to have sit-down service at Oahu eateries begin June 5.

As the city does more of this, the public will feel government is doing everything possible to protect them, and the city can jump on it if there is a spike in cases, the mayor said.

He spoke of multiple ways the city can test for COVID-19, including lab testing, testing for antibodies, and testing the city’s wastewater for the presence of the virus.

Caldwell announced “agreements in principal” with the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine, the island’s private medical testing laboratories Diagnostic Laboratories Services and Clinical Laboratories and Clinical Labs of Hawaii, and Oahu’s seven community health centers to create a partnership with the goal of testing more than 100,000 people.

“That would be one-tenth of all the residents of this island,” he said.

Monies will come from the city’s $387 million share of the federal government’s $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) package passed by Congress in March.

Caldwell was joined at the press conference by University of Hawaii President David Lassner, JABSOM Dean Dr. Jerris Hedges, and Hawaii Primary Care Association CEO Robert Hirokawa.

The news conference took place in front of the John. A. Burns School of Medicine.

Additionally, Caldwell announced that city will be conducting a wastewater epidemiological testing program for the presence of COVID-19 to trace what parts of the island my be seeing an uptick of the virus.

“It doesn’t mean they can trace from that presence who exactly was sick, but what it can tell us what is the prevalence of COVID-19 in our wastewater, and is it going up or going down?” Caldwell said. “It shows trend lines and it alerts people … whether there is an increase in the virus.”

Watch the news conference above.

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