Virus test provider reduces but doesn’t cut off supplies

HONOLULU (AP) — A supplier of one of Hawaii’s largest COVID-19 testing laboratories said it has temporarily reduced the volume of test kits available locally because of a surge of cases across the country but not cut off the supply.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services Inc. on Wednesday said it would no longer receive reagents and other supplies from Roche Diagnostics Corp., one of the largest manufacturers of equipment and supplies for COVID-19 testing, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

However, Roche said it’s only allocating limited testing.

“Sometimes this requires shifting some of our test supply to hospitals and laboratories in geographic regions that experience large-scale community spread of infection, in order to reach the most patients in need. We will continue to support Diagnostic Laboratory Services and the State of Hawaii,” it said in a statement.

Diagnostic Laboratory Services President Mark Wasielewski said the company’s capacity for COVID-19 testing has been reduced from 800 tests per day to 250 tests daily, he said.

“Non-priority testing will be sent to mainland laboratories that may take up to 10 days to perform tests,” Wasielewski said, noting the company continues to explore ways to boost its testing capabilities.

“If reagents can be supplied to our capacity, DLS would be able to perform 2,000 tests per day based on the equipment our company currently has in Hawaii,” he said.

Other laboratories, including Clinical Labs of Hawaii, are working together to address the state’s testing needs, especially for the most critical, hospitalized patients, Miscovich said.

“Unfortunately, this may cause the return of the results to be multiple days instead of the 24-hour turnaround,” Miscovich said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.