No at-home COVID testing kits? Problems rise for Maui restaurants and their workforce

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 6:25 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 7:33 PM HST
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WAILUKU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A major shortage of over the counter at-home COVID-19 tests is creating problems for some restaurants on Maui.

Mauliola Pharmacy Pharmacist Dr. Cory Lehano said they haven’t had take-home tests in stock for weeks because of a nationwide backlog.

“We do have our primary vendors who operate out of Honolulu, we have secondary vendors, tertiary vendors, all these vendors are out currently of the at-home test kits,” said Lehano.

Lehano believes the high demand comes from people who like the convenience of having a rapid test at home.

In addition, Maui County has a vaccine-or-test mandate for many employees.

The Hawaii Restaurant Association Executive Director said without access to convenient testing, many employees are not coming to work.

“Some of our employees, they just decide that it’s not worth it to get the weekly testing, so they’re not submitting their tests, so in turn, they’re not getting scheduled,” Sheryl Matsuoka said. “Now we’re out looking for employees who are vaccinated.”

Maui County still has the lowest vaccination rate in the state at just 62%.

Last week, the White House announced it is allocating an additional $1 billion to purchase millions of rapid at-home COVID tests.

Lehano hopes to be getting those as soon as possible.

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