COVID-19 testing at all-time high on Kauai to curb community spread


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Demand for COVID-19 testing is at an all-time high on Kauai where case numbers are expected to increase after four locations were linked to positive cases.

Monday’s one new case was a welcomed break after the Garden Isle reached 73 active cases in two weeks, but with so much virus in the community, many residents are going out to get tested.

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“A week ago, we were testing 50 to 60 people a day in the community testing site at the Convention Hall, and then by the middle of the week, we were testing 350 a day,” said Kauai District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman.

The increased number of people promoted free testing over the weekend, which was a first for the County, and they increased testing capacity to 400 tests a day for the rest of the week.

“I believe all 400 appointments were gone by 10:15 this morning,” she added.

Wilcox Hospital helped by offering free-drive thru testing over the weekend too.

“We did hear that the wait was about two and a half hours. So clearly, there’s a lot of demand, and I think that’s a good thing,” Berreman said.

She said more people might be coming out to get tested who might have been associated with possible positive cases.

On Saturday, the District Health Office encouraged people who went to Rob’s Good Times Grill or Troy’s Bar between Friday, April 16, and Thursday, April 29, to get tested; and for people who attended the Ekolu Mea Nui drive-in concert at Vidinha Stadium on April 24 and the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort Brunch Babes show on April 17 or 18 to get tested too.

“We have seen transmissions have occurred at the two restaurants and bars,” she explained. “At the performance events, we have not seen evidence of transmission, but what we know is that there were individuals there during their infectious period.”

Berreman said she wasn’t there, but anecdotally, there’s been a lot of close contact without mask wearing.

She said discussions continue with Mayor Derek Kawakami about shifting tiers for the first time.

“We’re about to go into our second and then third meetings of the day about what kinds of actions the County should take at the point that the tier system would tip us into the next tier, which is Tier 3,” Berreman said.

“These tiers were made a while ago, and so we want to make sure that they really reflect our best knowledge and understanding now and factoring in variants, vaccine, CDC guidance on masking indoor versus outdoor risk, and the patterns of disease that we’re seeing here on Kauai,” she said. “All of those things play into the mix.”

Berreman said vaccinated employees can return to work, although businesses have closed voluntarily for the time-being.

She said vaccinated residents do not need to get tested unless they have symptoms.

All symptomatic people are asked to not go to the free testing site and go to a health care provider instead.

She also asked for the public’s help when it comes to contact tracing.

“Everything that we do is completely dependent on our community members when we call them, meeting us halfway, providing as much information as they can, listening to the information and complying as best they can with our directions,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s a feeling of panic, but there’s certainly a sense of fear and concern on our island that we haven’t seen for a long time,” she added.

Individuals identified as a close contact of a positive case are asked to contact their primary care physician, a hospital, or an urgent care clinic to schedule a drive-up test.

Drive-up testing is available at KVMH, Wilcox, Kaua‘i Medical Clinic Kapa‘a, and Longs Kapaa with a doctor’s order.  

The County of Kauai’s free testing location at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall has reached capacity for several consecutive days.

“We have been forced to turn people away from the free testing clinic after reaching capacity at 400 available spots per day,” said Kaua‘i COVID-19 Incident Management Team Section Chief Patrick Porter. “If you have insurance and need a test, please kokua and get a doctor’s order for a drive-up test so the free option can remain available for those who need it. Drive-up testing is also a safer option for those who may have been exposed to COVID. Please do not come to the testing clinic if you are sick with fever or a cough; stay home and call your doctor or go to a healthcare facility.”

Hoola Lahui Community Clinic, in partnership with Malama Pono, the Hawai‘i Department of Health, and the County of Kauai, is offering vaccine appointments on Saturday, May 8, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Anahola Clubhouse.

Adults over 18 are eligible for this clinic. Participants will be able to choose between the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

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