The Latest: 1 Death, 115 New Cases; DLS To Increase Testing Capacity; AARP Holds Vaccine Town Hall

Jan 29, 2021

Updated 1/29/21, 1:14 p.m.

The state’s largest private medical laboratory is scaling up its COVID-19 testing capacity. Diagnostic Laboratory Services will go from being able to do 1,000 tests a day to 4,000.

It will open two new sites on Oahu for pre-travel and back-to-work testing.

"I hope the vaccine works. I hope we reach herd immunity. And testing becomes less needed," said Mark Wasielewski, DLS president.

"But I don't see it going away anytime soon, especially during the transition. I actually fear people overreact to the vaccine and be more careless in their masking and social distancing and there could end up being another surge if people do not follow those protocols that are in place, but throughout the transition testing will still be needed. And it's going to take a long time for the world to get acclimated."

He says there is enough supply of reagents to conduct the tests now, unlike earlier in the pandemic when that was limiting test capacity.

But he’s monitoring the lab’s supply of plastic materials, which could become scarce.

Insurance will not cover testing for those who are traveling or asymptomatic, unless it is required before a medical operation.

-- HPR's Ashley Mizuo

Where we stand

The state Department of Health reported 115 new cases and one new fatality on Friday.

According to the state's numbers, Oʻahu had 75, Maui 24, Hawaiʻi Island 5, Lanai 1, Kauaʻi and Molokaʻi had no new cases. 11 resident was diagnosed out of state.

The latest state count brings the Oʻahu total to 20,782, Hawaiʻi County 2,144, Maui 1,706, Kauaʻi 178, Lanai 107, and Molokaʻi 25. The number of out-of-state cases totals 714.

Since the pandemic began, the state has tallied 25,656 cases. The death toll stands at 407.

AARP to hold COVID vaccine town hall

If you have questions about getting a COVID vaccine, but you don't have access to a computer, you can get some answers tomorrow, Saturday, January 30.

AARP Hawaii is holding a telephone town hall tomorrow morning with acting state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble and Lieutenant Governor Josh Green.

AARP Hawaii director Kealiʻi Lopez says you can call into the event and get a wide variety of information.

"Find out more about who's eligible to be vaccinated now, where the locations are, what's the process for being able to call to register or go online to register," Lopez said. 

"I think folks are very concerned about kupuna who can't get online. And we definitely have some thoughts on what people can do to help them, but we hope to get a lot of information out via the tele-town hall."

You can register for the telephone town hall by calling 866-295-7282 or contact AARP Hawaii