More than 54K tests conducted statewide

  • LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today file photo Alii Health Center staff perform medical screening at the COVID-19 testing March 28 at Old Kona Airport Park.

  • MARTELL

  • Premier Medical health care worker Shanelle Starrett takes a photo of Aaron Hirishi’s ID at the COVID-19 drive up testing March 23 at Old Airport Park. (LAURA RUMINSKI/West Hawaii Today file photo)

  • CABATU

  • Trevor Pyke is tested for COVID-19 at a pop-up test site at the New Hope Baptist Church by Cempa Community care, Wednesday in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP)

More than 54,000 COVID-19 tests have now been conducted across Hawaii.

As of Friday, 54,014 tests have been administered and 47,421 people have been tested.

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There have been 649 confirmed coronavirus cases statewide, including three new cases Friday on Oahu.

The statewide numbers include all testing initiated by private clinical labs, hospitals and any drive-through clinics that process their specimens for testing at private labs, according to the state’s COVID-19 joint information center.

However, it’s unclear from the available data how many individuals in each county have been tested more than once.

Most of the tests statewide — 29,453 — have been conducted in the City and County of Honolulu, which has a population of nearly 975,000.

On the Big Island, which has just over 201,500 residents, 7,608 COVID-19 tests have been performed as of Friday.

Meanwhile, on Kauai, just 2,150 tests have been done, and on Maui, which has the second most COVID-19 cases, 9,257 tests have been conducted. Those islands have populations around 72,300 and 167,500, respectively.

All told, about 3.35% of the state’s 1.4 million residents have been tested for COVID-19.

In East Hawaii, just over 1,000 people have been tested at Hilo Medical Center’s drive-through testing site since it opened March 17.

Between March 17 and March 31, 333 people were tested for the disease, while 337 people were tested the entirety of April. Between May 1 and May 22, 314 tests were completed at the location.

HMC spokeswoman Elena Cabatu said testing numbers are stabilizing, because HMC is now requiring testing upon admission or prior to having a procedure done.

“At this point, the numbers are telling us we still need to maintain these testing sites,” she said.

“Both the (U.S) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have specified that mass screening should be a condition of reopening services,” said Dr. Jon Martell, chief medical officer at HMC. “This applies equally to Hilo Medical Center and to all areas of the public and private sectors. The reason that this is so important is that hot spots can occur in unexpected places and populations.

“If we’re not vigilant, this may result in serious outbreaks that could require that some services be reduced or temporarily suspended,” he continued. “Ongoing surveillance is a critical part of making sure we can keep on providing services safely.”

Mandatory COVID-19 testing will soon be required for the 1,400 employees of HMC, hospitals in Honokaa and Ka‘u, and clinics in Hilo, Ka‘u and Puna.

The initial testing will take place June 1-4, but Cabatu said testing of about 230 random employees will be ongoing monthly.

“… Also, this testing is mandatory because COVID is a transmissible disease which has potential to have (an) impact on our workplace and our workforce,” she said. “That’s why knowledge is power and we really need to know.

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Additionally, Cabatu said, “Part of the reason we’re also testing employees is we want to provide facts about prevalence, and we are concerned that COVID may be a barrier for our community to seek care. So we want to tell them we are routinely checking and surveilling our workforce to ensure our community, our patients, we are a safe (place).”

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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