First day of COVID-19 surge testing sees thousands but brings long waits

Coronavirus

KANEOHE, Hawaii (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said 3,600 people signed up for the first day of surge COVID-19 testing, and with the large turnout also came long lines that created traffic as well as forced many to wait in line for more than hour.

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Caldwell said testing at Kaneohe District Park closed briefly in the afternoon of Aug. 26 to get the long lines of cars under control.

Caldwell said, “People being turned away for a short period of time for half an hour, 45 minutes, to get control to allow people to get back in line and not cause anymore gridlock and traffic.” 

Even with a timeslot appointment, residents like Jon Branch waited for more than an hour to reach their testing site.

Branch said, “My appointment was between 10:00 and 10:10, I was in line for an hour and a half.”  

The Honolulu Fire Department (HFD) is involved in logistics of the testing sites and said testing at Kaneohe District Park continued for the rest of the afternoon.

HFD says – “We haven’t run out.  Supply is good and we plenty of healthcare workers. Kaneohe shut down temporarily for logistical reasons but no tests were cancelled and no one was turned away.  Both sites are currently up and running. Pre-registration and having a printed voucher is the most efficient way to participate.”

The surge testing is supported by the federal government. U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome Adams said the tests are more than 90% accurate, and the test samples will be sent to a lab in California. Test results will be available in two to three days.

He reminds people to sign up for an appointment online to help speed the process.

Branch said he was not expecting the long lines when he drove-up with his appointment. He hopes testing sites are more organized during the next two weeks of testing.

Branch said, “They give you various times they want to come to there, and then realizing you have to wait in all of the traffic and taking you up to a residential area, which I don’t think the people were too happy about that.”

Vice Admiral Adams said he sees the involvement from the community as a success.

Adams said, “Know that we will continue to look at different sites and different places and make sure we improve, but for today, I consider this a success.”

Mayor Caldwell said he is working with Governor David Ige to open Aloha Stadium as test site.

Scroll through COVID-19 testing locations here.

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