HONOLULU (KHON2) — In an unprecedented move by the local government, mass COVID-19 testing on the H-3 Freeway took place on Sept. 1 even though the federal government rejected the state’s request to shut it down. And the state plans to do it again on Sept. 3.
Ed Sniffen from the Hawaii Department of Transportation says they decided to move forward because testing for COVID-19 is more important, but there could be consequences ahead.
“We’ve been planning this operation for over a week now and this is the only site on the island that we have for testing today. The requirements for testing are way too big for us to stop moving forward onright now,” said Sniffen.
Sniffen says the letter listed several concerns to use H-3 for non-transportation purposes, including the impact on traffic, safety, and operations from the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe.
“So I got to give them more information to let them know what we’re doing from a protocol perspective, from a researching perspective, and traffic monitoring perspective to ensure that everyone is safe here,” said Sniffen.
Manpower was beefed up for the Sept. 1 event, with more than 300 people manning checkpoints and testing stations.
“We do believe this is a safe testing site. It has all of the attributes that we would want in terms of the communities’ convenience,” said Governor David Ige.
But the state’s actions could mean delayed access to federal funding.
“Anytime the federal government sends you a letter, the potential consequences could be they could withhold funding. So every year we get about $180 million,” said Sniffen.
Sniffen plans to address the federal government’s concerns while continuing to test and is urging people to pre-register for Sept. 3.
To pre-register, click the link here.