Big Island Coronavirus Updates

County Rolls Out New COVID Testing Program for Businesses

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Hawaiʻi County is now offering a new COVID testing program for businesses to help prevent workplace spread of the illness.

Mayor Mitch Roth announced in a press release Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 8, the rollout of Healthier Organizations for Everyone, or HOE. The county will administer the program in partnership with Community First Hawaiʻi through its Our Kuleana Pledge Partners to help prevent workplace spread of COVID-19 through travel-related testing.

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth

“At the heart of a healthy economy is a healthy and vibrant workplace,” said Roth. “We have reached a point in the pandemic where we must continue to march forward as a community. Through partnerships with our on-island businesses to test employees who travel off-island, we believe that we can prevent a majority of workplace spread and ultimately reduce community spread islandwide.”

Participating organizations are encouraged to provide a rapid test to all employees, vaccinated and unvaccinated, before traveling off-island and collect rapid test results 24-hours before the employee’s anticipated return to the workplace. Employees who receive a positive or inconclusive test result should inform their employer before returning to work. Employees who receive a negative rapid test result can return to the workplace without additional testing.


“Our Kuleana Pledge Partners continue to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in our community through their safe workplace practices,” said Community First Program Manager Vanessa Carlson. “The HOE program allows businesses to take their effort to another level − for their organization, their family and their community − through this opportunity for testing employees who travel off-island.”

Since the program’s launch Feb. 4, 18 partnerships have been created in agreement with the HOE testing program. In addition, the first 100 businesses to sign up for the program will receive 20 free rapid COVID tests procured by Community First Hawaiʻi as part of an incentive to join the collective effort.

Individual businesses are responsible for purchasing all other tests per the program.


“We are incredibly grateful for all of the businesses who jumped at the opportunity to join us in this effort and continue to welcome all Hawaiʻi Island businesses to sign up if they haven’t already,” Roth said.

The word “hoe,” pronounced “hoy” in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, translates to paddle. In a canoe, or waʻa, every person garners a critical role and is responsible for pulling their weight. With each paddle stroke, the waʻa gets closer to its desired destination. However, if every paddle does not move in perfect harmony, the journey becomes much longer.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have seen every sector of our community paddling harmoniously, with one common goal – protecting each other and keeping each other safe,” the press release says. “That is why we have been able to glide through the rough waters of this pandemic and are closer than ever to our destination. The word ‘hoe’ can also mean to travel and is suiting since the purpose of the business testing is travel-related.”


To learn more about the program, click here.

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