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Local Testing Capacity Drastically Cut Due to Supply Shortage

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AP Photo/Audrey McAvoy
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Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc., the largest local lab in the state, warned that the number of tests it can run has been sharply reduced because it cannot obtain the supplies needed to process COVID-19 tests.

On Aug. 1., the state plans to let travelers from out of state avoid the mandatory quarantine if they can show they tested negative for COVID-19 within three days prior to their flight to the islands. 

The Honolulu City Council yesterday called for more safety precautions before the quarantine is lifted, including a second test after the travelers arrive.

However, Dr. Scott Miscovich from Premier Medical Group wants the reopening delayed because he said Hawaii’s testing capacity is already in jeopardy.

He told the council yesterday, that the state’s largest diagnostic labs are unable to readily get the reagents needed for COVID-19 tests. Reagents are among the critical components in chemical-based tests.

“Unfortunately, with the surge on the mainland, their main supplier of the reagents to run the test which is Roche, has basically shut them off,” he said. “If we see the surge continuing that we are seeing right now, we have basically cut our testing capabilities in half.”

Mark Wasielewski, president of Diagnostic Labs, said in a statement that the supply problems have cut his company’s daily test capacity from 800 to 250 tests a day. 

Because of this, Diagnostic Labs has prioritized local testing for clinics, similar to the policy early in the pandemic when tests were in short supply. 

All other tests will be sent to the mainland, which can take up to 10 days for results.

If the reagents become available again, Diagnostic Labs says it would be able to test up to 2,000 people a day.

Beyond a second round of tests, the City Council called in a resolution for a location-tracking phone application for visitors and increased local testing for residents. If the safety measures can't be implemented, the council said the state's Aug. 1 reopening should be delayed.

 

 

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