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VIDEO: Mayor Caldwell announces COVID-19 testing partnership with University of Hawaii medical school

  • COURTESY MAYOR KIRK CALDWELL / FACEBOOK

The city has built a COVID-19 laboratory at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine with as much as $4 million in federal Cares Act funds, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell announced today.

The new lab will be able to conduct up to 100,000 tests a year to support seven community health centers testing underserved populations and will initially be able to do up to 500 diagnostic PCR tests per day, with surge capacity of up to 1,000 tests per day, if necessary, Caldwell said.

The test kits are being developed and analyzed at the lab so the turnaround time for results is estimated at 24 to 48 hours.

“Starting Monday you can get a free COVID test,” Caldwell said during a media briefing at JABSOM in Kakaako. “I encourage our residents in the community to come here … and get tested. It’s important for everyone’s health.”

The tests are free for residents, with or without health insurance, with some reserved for first responders and City and County of Honolulu workers. Go to oneoahu.org for more information.

Oahu is also on track to move into the next phase of reopening in one week with restrictions on gyms, personal services and other activities being lifted as long as coronavirus cases remain low.

Caldwell urged residents to continue limiting gatherings to no more than five people and following COVID-19 precautions to ensure the number of cases and positivity rate declines or stays flat.

“We all want to get there. Don’t go around groups of more than five. Don’t do that so we can get into tier 2,” he implored residents.

Oahu’s seven-day average case count is currently at 68, while the seven-day average positivity rate is 3.4%, the mayor said. The island’s seven-day average case count must stay below 100 and its positivity rate must be below 5% for 14 consecutive days to move into the next level of economic opening on Oct. 22.

“When we get to tier 2 we’ve got to stay below average or we could end up moving back. We don’t ever want to move back,” he said. “We’re going into a period where we just opened up to visitors today … and kids are returning to school and absolutely necessary, but because of these things we could see an increase in the number of cases, which is why we have to be extra careful right now.”

Meanwhile, Ko Olina Resort has agreed to reopen all four lagoons and parking lots to the public on Friday from sunrise to sunset. The resort will also have its own standalone testing program for visitors, workers and people swimming at the lagoons. Visitors must follow masking and social distancing rules and limit groups to no more than five.

“Next week on this day there will be an order entered by the governor moving us into tier 2 and hopefully then onto tier 3 and 4,” Caldwell said.

Watch the briefing via the video above, or go to Mayor Caldwell’s Facebook page.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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