HONOLULU (KHON2) — Under a new state protocol, people who have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19 will be tested, whether they’re showing symptoms or not. Lt. Governor Josh Green, introduced the protocol at Wednesday’s state press conference.
“By testing our close contacts of positive patients, and South Korea was very aggressive with testing no doubt, that is a way to keep people locked down and quickly shrink the volume of disease,” said Green.
Dr. Anderson, the Hawaii Department of Health director, said the change is due to new science that shows that even people who show no signs of the virus, can still spread the disease.
“…We are being more aggressive on our testing programs as well. So we’re assuming there may be a period of time when people may be asymptomatic, but still able to still transmit the disease,” said Anderson.
Lt. Governor Josh Green said tracing close contacts is the fastest way to stop the spread, and once they’re tested, they’ll have to be quarantined for 14 days.
“That’s the way we can both test them, and test them quickly, and still treat those folks as if they’re still positive. Because there is a window when someone is in contact with a positive case and they get sick,” said Green.
The state said its priority is to test healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of fighting the virus. However, it doesn’t believe in testing everyone.
“Testing asymptomatic individuals is not practical, and does not yield necessary information, it simply burns up supplies and staffing and has little value from a public health standpoint,” said Anderson.
He said what they’re hoping to do next is implement an active surveillance program, similar to South Korea, to continue to identify the disease and follow up on contacts.