High demand, delays impact deliveries of free at-home COVID test kits


HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to the Say Yes! COVID Test website, 80,000 people have ordered free at-home test kits through the state’s pilot program. The first orders were put in on Monday, Sept. 20, and some people are still wondering where their delivery is.

“I just got a text this afternoon that said it’ll take about one to two weeks for it to come in, so I did get a text at least,” said Gabriel Sur, a Honolulu resident who ordered online.

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The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) said the pilot program has seen a huge response for orders in Honolulu. Due to supply chain availability and shipping times, the test kits will be delivered within two to three weeks. Orders placed after Tuesday, Sept. 21, should be received within three to four weeks.

Hawaii residents are still waiting to put their test kits to use.

“My wife works in the school system, so we just want to make sure she’s protected, and then the other kit I ordered for myself, I’ll give to my daughter because she’s like a counselor. So she deals with a lot of kids and families, so just want to make sure that she’s also tested and safe,” Sur said.

Others told KHON that they received their test kits in the mail on Wednesday, Oct. 5. Health officials said these home test kits are convenient and add a layer of protection against the coronavirus.

“It’s really important that if somebody is positive on their home test that then they come see us and get their confirmatory PCR tests,” said Jacob Schafer, the Director of Infection Control at the Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center. “Then we can hook them up to all the services they need. Maybe they even qualify for some of the antibody treatments if somebody has tested positive.”

Schafer added that frequent testing is especially important for those at risk of more COVID exposure.

“Maybe they don’t have time to miss work to get tested. S,o they think ‘you know what, I’ll just go to work and I’ll get tested after work.’ Terrible idea. If that’s going to be the case, go take a home test first before you go to work so you don’t infect your coworkers. Same with your keiki that are going to school,” Schafer said.

Online ordering is no longer available for the Say Yes! COVID Test. However, the home kits can still be picked up at designated sites, but due to high demand, those sites have also run out of supply. The next community partner shipment is expected by the end of this week or early next week. Those who feel sick should opt for free testing.

“We’ve seen households that are totally infected by the time the first individual comes in to get tested. So, I think the missing piece that we need to really emphasize to everyone is as soon as you have that first symptom, that first sniffle, that first sore throat, that first headache, go and get tested immediately,” Schafer added.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

A City spokesperson said since the tests are antigen and FDA approved under emergency use authorization, they are acceptable under the Safe Access Oahu program.

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