Surge in mainland cases impacting Hawaii’s testing capabilities

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — We’ve learned what’s happening on the mainland is also having an impact here.

Dr. Scott Miscovich, who has been involved with COVID-19 testings on Oahu, says that the high demand for testing supplies in other states means our testing capabilities are going to be cut in half. He tells the Honolulu City Council that he spoke to the president of the Diagnostic Laboratories Services on Tuesday.

“Unfortunately with the surge on the mainland, their main supplier of the reagents to run the test which is Roche, which is one of the largest…has basically shut them off,” he said.

In a statement, DLS says:

…our primary testing manufacturing vendor Roche Diagnostics, Inc. is currently unable to supply us with the reagents necessary to perform COVID-19 testing…As a result, DLS’ capacity for COVID testing has been reduced from 800 tests per day to 250 tests per day and will only be locally testing priority clinical testing in the immediate future on island. Non-priority testing will be sent to mainland laboratories that may take up to 10 days to perform tests…If reagents can be supplied to our capacity, DLS would be able to perform 2,000 tests per day based on the equipment our company currently has in Hawaii.”

“If we see the surge continuing that we are seeing right now, we basically seen our testing capabilities cut in half,” said Dr. Miscovich. “So we are probably going to be looking at maybe–instead of being closer to 5,000–we are going to be down to 2,400.”

Dr. Miscovich says that he’s concerned about the situations in states likes Arizona, Texas, and California. He feels that the reopening date to tourism, which is August 1, should be pushed back to September 1.

“I’m strongly urging that the council consider that we support the initiation of a second test being required by an individual arriving on our islands to follow the first test,” he said.

In a statement, the Department of Health said:

DOH is aware that some clinical laboratories are experiencing delays in receiving supplies, and thus have had to send out a number of their tests to the mainland, which will in turn, delay results reporting. The State Laboratories Division (SLD) is currently meeting the demand for testing and has offered to test prioritized samples from private labs to help with essential testing.”

Here is DLS’ full statement from Mark Wasielewski, President of Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc.:

“Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. (DLS) has been directly impacted by the surge of COVID-19 cases on the mainland. DLS uses several laboratory manufacturing vendors to perform COVID-19 testing; however, our primary testing manufacturing vendor Roche Diagnostics, Inc. is currently unable to supply us with the reagents necessary to perform COVID-19 testing on our largest high throughput testing platform. The Roche platform is considered one of the best for COVID testing and is utilized by major mainland reference laboratories such as Quest Diagnostic Laboratories and LabCorp of America that are all in need of the same supplies.

As a result, DLS’ capacity for COVID testing has been reduced from 800 tests per day to 250 tests per day and will only be locally testing priority clinical testing in the immediate future on island. Non-priority testing will be sent to mainland laboratories that may take up to 10 days to perform tests. We are fortifying our other COVID testing platforms and are looking into new platforms to bring in-house to boost our testing capabilities as quickly as possible.

We are fortunate to be able to work with the other Hawaii labs to help us keep as much testing as we can on island until we can be resupplied. As Hawaii’s largest locally owned laboratory I am personally devastated that we cannot help with more testing as the demand and needs are rising in our state, but with the support of local legislators, such a Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, DLS is doing all it can to increase our reagent supply to meet the demand of our community. If reagents can be supplied to our capacity, DLS would be able to perform 2,000 tests per day based on the equipment our company currently has in Hawaii.”

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