Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 - March 25, 2020
Dr Sarah Park, Hawaii State Epidemiologist, begins at 39:57 mark – She goes on a 10-minute rant against testing which must be heard to be believed.
Edward Desmond, administrator of the Hawaii State Laboratories Division, begins at 50:00 mark – After listening to Park, he says:
“I just want to add a different perspective based on some news I heard today. Yesterday we were testing just nasal pharyngeal swabs. These require a health care worker to don personal protective equipment (PPE) and collect the nasal pharyngeal swab…. As of today we have been informed the FDA has recommended acceptance of … nasal turbinate swabs … that you can do yourself. So somebody could collect that at home without using personal protective equipment.
For the reasons Dr Park described, I have not been an advocate of expanded testing because we are competing with the hospitals for a very limited supply of PPE. And we are facing the frightening prospect of health care workers charged with taking care of hospital patients—and they didn’t have a mask, they didn’t have a pair of gloves, they didn’t have a gown. So in that situation we did not promote expanded testing….
Now we’re facing a different situation. Its a possibility that (with the new nasal turbinate test) we could (now) do expanded testing because we are no longer in competition with the healthcare workers….
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Here is another development which can speed up testing if brought into Hawaii....
Cepheid: Xpert® Xpress SARS-CoV-2 has received FDA Emergency Use Authorization
FDA: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Issues first Emergency Use Authorization for Point of Care Diagnostic
Amata Welcomes OIA Testing Grant, Congress Funding Expanded Testing
News Release from Office of Rep Aumua Amata, R-AS, March 26, 2020
Washington, D.C. — Thursday, Congresswoman Aumua Amata welcomes notice of an Office of Insular Affairs grant for COVID-19 testing equipment, and said the $2 trillion CARES Act contains expanded national funding for testing to make it widely available and speed up the distribution as part of $1.5 billion to CDC.
“This is welcome news from Interior and OIA,” said Aumua Amata. “Our islands need testing just as soon as possible, and our medical professionals are up to the task. Thank you to Secretary David Bernhardt and Assistant Secretary Doug Domenech and congratulations to Governor Lolo. Congress is making testing a major priority in this week’s CARES Act, and also funded testing in earlier coronavirus response legislation this month.”
In a letter from Assistant Secretary Domenech, OIA has announced the awarding of $858,924 in Technical Assistance Program funding for the Emergency Bulk Procurement of GeneXpert COVID-19 Testing Kits and Machine for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam, as well as the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.
Interior Provides $858,924 to Procure GeneXpert COVID-19 Testing Kits and Machine for the U.S. Pacific Territories and Freely Associated States
News Release from US DoI, 3/26/2020
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, Douglas W. Domenech announced $858,924 in Technical Assistance Program (TAP) emergency grant funding to the Pacific Island Health Officers Association (PIHOA) to procure GeneXpert testing kits and a machine for the U.S. Pacific territories and freely associated states so that they may now conduct on-island testing during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Funding will be used to purchase newly developed COVID-19 testing kits for American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands as well as the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Funds will also be used to purchase one GeneXpert back-up machine for the region.
“Secretary Bernhardt and I are pleased to support the purchase of testing materials and the machine in facilitating island health officials to conduct on-site testing for COVID-19 cases during this pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary Domenech. “Travel restrictions imposed to protect island communities from COVID-19 have delayed and restricted options for centralized lab testing services, but recent Emergency Use Authorization announcements made by President Trump and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have opened other opportunities for on-site testing. This is critical for island area health officials as they work to protect their communities,” concluded Domenech.
The PIHOA has confirmed that all health departments in the Pacific territories and the freely associated states currently have the testing equipment, lab infrastructure, skills, and practical knowledge base to set up and run localized COVID-19 testing using the GeneXpert platform as they currently run similar tests on the same platform for other diseases, such as tuberculosis. PIHOA is working with regional and local health authorities to assess needs and will conduct a regional bulk procurement of newly developed COVID-19 testing kits and a back-up GeneXpert machine for the island areas.
For guidelines on how to apply for OIA TAP funding, please visit the OIA website at https://www.doi.gov/oia/financial-assistance. Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) has also extended the previously announced grant application deadline for fiscal year (FY) 2020 TAP funding from April 1 to May 1, 2020.
For more information about the work of the Office of Insular Affairs, visit http://www.doi.gov/oia or follow @ASIIADomenech on Twitter.
The Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs carry out the Secretary of the Interior’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau.