Hawaii County sets up free coronavirus testing program in response to prison cluster


FILE – In this Sept. 19, 2020 file photo, a doctor takes a nasal swab sample to test for COVID-19 at the Cocodrilos Sports Park in Caracas, Venezuela. PAHO, the regional office for the World Health Organization in the Americas, said the week of Jan. 22 2021 that only 3,000, or about 1%, of the 340,000 COVID antigen testing kits sent to the country have been used. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix, File)

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The County of Hawaii has set up a free COVID-19 community testing program to address the reported cluster at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center (HCCC) in Hilo.

Testing began on Wednesday, June 16, at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium and officials say updates will be provided if the location of the testing site changes.

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The program is scheduled to continue on Saturday, June 19, Wednesday, June 23, and Saturday, June 26.

“At this time, we feel that setting up a testing program is the best way for us to gather data to ensure that our communities remain protected. We are slowly beginning our return to normalcy, and ensuring that we don’t trip at the finish line is our number one priority. We would also like to remind residents that with the new variants becoming prevalent in the community that it is truly our kuleana to get vaccinated to keep our community healthy, happy, and safe as we begin our recovery towards a thriving Hawaiʻi Island.”

Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth

County officials say the decision to start free community COVID-19 testing was based on the following reasons:

  • Number of positives amongst HCCC staff and the continued possibility of community spread.
  • The overall increase in visitor arrivals.
  • The lifting of inter-island flight restrictions on June 15.
  • The increasing number of social gatherings due to graduation and other summer activities.

The Department of Public Safety said there were 103 active COVID-19 inmate cases and four active COVID-19 staff cases at HCCC as of Friday, June 18.

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