Nearly $1 Million Headed To Hawai‘i To Increase COVID-19 Testing For Pacific Islander Communities

November 19, 2020, 11:39 AM HST · Updated November 19, 11:39 AM
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Keōpūolani Drive Through testing. PC: file courtesy County of Maui

US Senator Brian Schatz of Hawai‘i today announced that the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will receive $958,613 from the National Institutes of Health to increase the reach, access and uptake of COVID-19 testing among Pacific Islander communities in Hawai‘i and Guam.

This grant will fund the Puipuia le Ola project, which improves testing outreach to Pacific Islanders through culturally and linguistically appropriate community engagement.

“We need to do more to fight outbreaks in Pacific Islander communities. By ramping up testing and supporting the targeted outreach efforts of local agencies on the ground, we can help stop the spread of the virus,” said Senator Schatz, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “There’s still more work to do, but this federal grant is a good start.”

According to the Hawai‘i Department of Health, Pacific Islanders account for 28 percent of COVID-19 infections, despite being just 4 percent of the state’s population. Public health experts agree that increasing testing will help stop community spread of the virus, which they say will lead to fewer infections and deaths.

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The Puipuia le Ola project is a partnership between UH Manoa, University of Guam, Kalihi-Palama Health Center, the Native Hawaiian & Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response, Recovery, Resilience Team (COVID 3R), Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority, Hawai‘i Affordable Housing, Inc., American Samoa Government, and multiple community-based organizations.

Since the start of the pandemic, Hawai‘i has received tens of millions in federal funding for coronavirus testing and other public health strategies to stop the spread.

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