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Free state COVID testing is over but there are still options, health officials say

A rapid antigen test shows a positive test result for COVID-19.
Odd Andersen
AFP via Getty Images
A rapid antigen test shows a positive test result for COVID-19.

State health officials are reminding residents there are still plenty of COVID testing options available as COVID cases are rising.

Wednesday was the last day the health department offered free community PCR testing. The program started last July and was funded by the federal government.

Health department spokesperson Brooks Baehr says funding for the program has dried up but there are still plenty of testing options available to residents.

"There are lots of testing opportunities still available. You can go to covid.gov and get free tests. You could purchase tests at pharmacies and your insurance company will reimburse you for them," Baehr said.

The state spent nearly $80 million on its free testing program, Baehr said.

"Our federally qualified health centers, you know, the community health centers — they are still testing people. Pharmacies offer tests and some of them have the tests to treat options where you can not only get tested, but if you're positive, they can get you therapeutics right there in the pharmacy. The counties are still offering free testing. In Honolulu, you can still go out to the airport and get free PCR tests," he told HPR.

Baehr says students and teachers can get tested at school — and residents can get tests from their health care provider.

State-organized vaccination efforts will also transition to traditional health care settings, and a mobile vaccine program to reach people who can’t leave their homes will end.

The state Department of Health on Wednesday reported more than 1,700 new COVID cases over the previous week – with a 7% positivity rate. There were 2,743 positive cases reported over the last 14 days.

Despite an uptick, overall hospitalization numbers in Hawaiʻi remain low.

Find COVID-19 testing options in each county below:

Casey Harlow is an HPR reporter and occasionally fills in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Contact him at charlow@hawaiipublicradio.org or on Twitter (@CaseyHarlow).
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