CNMI to use Hawaii lab services for COVID-19 testing

Posted on Apr 10 2020


The Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. said Wednesday night that the Commonwealth Health Center will begin to use Diagnostic Laboratory Services in Honolulu, Hawaii for specimen testing of COVID-19 in addition to the Guam Public Health Laboratory.

Specimens sent for testing will follow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services three-level testing strategy:

– Hospitalized patients and healthcare facility workers with symptoms

– Patients in long-term care facilities with symptoms
– Patients 65 years of age or older with symptoms
– Patients with underlying conditions with symptoms
– First responders with symptoms

– Critical infrastructure workers with symptoms;
– Individuals who do not meet any of the above categories with symptoms;
– Health care facility workers and first responders;
– Individuals with mild symptoms in communities experiencing high numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

With the exception of a few specimens submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the State of Hawaii Laboratory earlier this year, the majority of specimens taken from CNMI residents have been tested at the GPHL, which was the identified regional laboratory with high complexity capability for COVID-19. However, due to the recent increase of COVID-19 cases in Guam and the outbreak on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which is currently docked in Guam, “the GPHL is unable to respond to our testing needs, which is not for a lack of their effort, nor desire; it is simply an outcome of increased work and limited human resources,” CHCC said in the statement.

Since the beginning of the CNMI response, CHCC has to-date collected 45 specimens; however, of these specimens, one was not viable and thus moving forward, CHCC will now report specimens collected for testing without this unviable specimen.

CHCC would like to remind the public that this pandemic is affecting many countries’ specimen testing capabilities. The CNMI’s geographic location and small population have always influenced the scale of health care services and laboratory testing capabilities available in our community.

The global scientific and laboratory response to the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed for the introduction and fast-tracking of the newest technologies, which will provide smaller and remote jurisdictions like ours with testing capabilities that can be implemented on our islands. CHCC is actively pursuing multiple testing solutions with the goal of not only being able to provide testing for our community, but to also ensure a solution that is sustainable and not dependent on external organizations. (PR)

Press Release
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