Big Island Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19 Antibody Tests Available on Big Island

May 8, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated May 7, 11:15 PM
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People get screened or tested during Alii Health Center’s COVID-19 drive-thru site at Old Kona Airport. (PC: Tiffany DeMasters)

COVID-19 antibody testing is now available on Hawai‘i Island.

Premier Medical Group and the County of Hawai‘i are offering antibody testing at their Waimea, North Kohala and Hilo testing clinics. Antibody testing can determine if you have previously had COVID-19. Drive-through antibody testing is available nowhere else in the state, according to a county press release.

The next clinics that will offer antibody testing are:

  • Waimea District Park — Friday, May 8 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • North Kohala (Kamehameha Park) — Saturday, May 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Hilo (behind the Civic Auditorium) — Monday, May 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Antibody testing will be offered only to those previously identified as having had the coronavirus, or those with high-risk exposures, including healthcare workers, first responders and family members or those with close contact to known positives. A blood draw detects the presence of SARS-Cov2 IgG antibodies in your system.

It should be noted that disease experts have disagreed about whether these tests should be used based on questions of effectiveness.

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“The antibody tests that are out there now, which are the ones that are most amenable to becoming take-home tests, are bad — for a lack of any other word,” Dr. Tim Brown, Senior Fellow at UNAIDS Collaborating Center at the East-West Center, said in late April.

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Brown added the antibody tests cross-react with common cold coronaviruses, which means someone may test positive for a cold they had a month ago.

This could cause serious health risks for those who believe they were exposed based on a bad test and head out into the community with a false sense of security due to a phantom immunity that doesn’t actually exist.

There is a $43 out-of-pocket cost to people whose medical insurance plans do not cover the antibody test. Call your insurance provider to find out if you’re covered.

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People who visit the screening clinic will be asked to show a photo ID. Additionally, people are requested to bring their own pens. For further information, call Premier Medical Group at 808-304-9745 or Hawai‘i County Civil Defense at 808-935-0031.

Standard COVID-19 testing also available

Aloha Kona Urgent Care will be conducting drive-through screening and testing clinics in Kona at its Pottery Terrace location, 75-5995 Kuakini Highway, Kailua-Kona. The clinics will be held on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, starting May 9 and continuing until further notice.

Premier Medical Group — with the support of the County of Hawai‘i, HOPE Services and the Hawai‘i National Guard — will offer a COVID-19 drive-through screening and testing clinic at Kamehameha Park in Kapa‘au on Saturday, May 9 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Premier Medical Group — with the support of the County of Hawai’i, Bay Clinic, HOPE Services and the Hawai‘i National Guard — will offer a drive-through screening and testing clinic behind Hilo’s Civic Auditorium on Monday, May 11 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Access is available only through the Manono Street entrance.

These free clinics are open to the public. However, individuals must first undergo a screening to determine if they meet the criteria to be tested. Clinic physicians on-site will make the determination regarding testing. The screening criteria will be based on guidance of the CDC and the State’s COVID-19 Response Task Force.

People who visit the screening clinic will be asked to show a photo ID. Additionally, people are requested to bring their own pen and any health insurance cards they have, although insurance is not required.

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