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Hawaii County to end COVID-19 district testing

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  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald One car is in line for COVID-19 testing by Premier Medical Group on Tuesday in Mountain View.

  • KELSEY WALLING/Tribune-Herald Rocco Mico-Talon is tested for COVID-19 by Ewan Chong with Premier Medical Group on Tuesday in Mountain View. Premier Medical will continue mobile COVID testing around the Big Island despite the county ending its district testing this week.

Hawaii County will end its COVID-19 district testing program this week after about 14 months of screening Big Islanders for the coronavirus.

With the county transitioning away from its program, testing will be transferred to medical providers, which the county said Tuesday have been conducting the bulk of testing since vaccinations became widely available.

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“With 52% of our island’s population receiving at least one vaccination shot, we feel that it is time to transition away from our community district testing program,” said Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. “We have seen a steady decline in demand for services and feel that the medical care providers around the island are now equipped to begin taking on the role of community testing.”

On Tuesday, the state said none of the 194 COVID-19 tests administered on the Big Island turned up a positive result, leaving Hawaii County’s tally at 2,763.

Since COVID testing began last March, according to the state Department of Health, more than 204,736 tests have been conducted on the island by various entities, including the county and health care providers.

In the past two weeks, just 54 cases have cropped up among the more than 8,350 tests conducted for an average of three new cases daily and a positivity rate of 0.7%. About 15 cases were tied to the Kailua-Kona area, with the remaining areas of the island reporting no more than 10 new cases.

COVID-19 testing is scheduled from 3-6 p.m. today at Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo. On Thursday, testing will be offered from 9 a.m.-noon at Old Kona Airport in Kailua-Kona. Testing will be conducted from 9 a.m.-noon Friday at Pahoa District Park in Puna.

The final county community testing is slated for 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at the West Hawaii Civic Center in Kailua-Kona.

“Our island has done an amazing job at keeping our numbers low, people out of hospitals and getting shots in arms,” said Mayor Mitch Roth. “As we begin to make this transition to our on-island medical care providers, we would like to encourage our community to continue getting vaccinated to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our county. We are on the path to normalcy, and with your help, we will be able to beat this virus once and for all, but it will take all of us.”

West Hawaii Community Health Center has also seen a decline in demand for testing, said spokeswoman Natasha Ala. Because of the reduced need, testing is now offered just two days a week via appointment.

“Just call us and we’ll take care of you,” said Ala. “If someone has symptoms, we will do a same-day COVID test.”

The federally qualified health center will host its last mass vaccination clinic May 28 at Kekuaokalani Gymnasium. Thereafter, vaccinations will be offered at its clinic sites.

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.

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The following facilities in East and North Hawaii will continue COVID-19 testing:

• Hilo Medical Center, 1190 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo. Phone: 932-3000

• Kaiser Permanente, 1292 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo. Phone: 934-4000

• Bay Clinic, 15-2866 Pahoa Village Road, Building C, Suite A, Pahoa. Phone: 333-3600

• Keaau Urgent Care, 16-590 Old Volcano Road, Suite B, Keaau. Phone: 966-7942

• Hilo Urgent Care, 670 Kekuanaoa St., Hilo. Phone: 969-3051

• Kauka Express Urgent Care, 2100 Kanoelehua Ave., Suite 209, Hilo. Phone: 981-1700

• Puna Community Medical Center, 15-2662 Pahoa Village Road, Suite 303-305, Pahoa. Phone: 930-6001

• Big Island Pain Clinic, 32 Ululani St., Hilo. Phone: 934-9675

• Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital, 67-1125 Mamalahoa Highway, Waimea. Phone: 885-4444

• Hamakua-Kohala Health Center, 45-549 Plumeria St., Honokaa. Phone: 755-7204

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• Waimea Urgent Care, 65-1230 Mamalahoa Highway, Suite A-10, Waimea. Phone: 885-0660

The county advises people seeking testing to call the facility for instructions.

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