Hawai’i DOH: COVID-19 Community Bulletin Issue #1

The Devil is in the Details

Inside the COVID-19 case investigation process with State Epidemiological Specialist Myra Ching-Lee

“Tracing the origins of a positive COVID-19 case is much like trying to solve a crime,” says Myra Ching-Lee, one of the Hawaii Department of Health’s (DOH) most experienced epidemiological specialists with more than 25 years on the job.

When the DOH Disease Investigation Branch team receives test results from private labs, the real work for its disease detectives begins, piecing together information about a patient’s case. We asked Ching-Lee to explain some of the tricky, difficult work involved in tracking down the vital details of a person who tests positive for COVID-19. Click here to get the full scoop.

COVID-19: So, Do I Need to Get Tested Right Now?

Here are three self-assessment questions to help you decide whether or not to seek testing for the COVID-19 virus.

Most people should be tested for COVID-19 just in case, right?
No. The bottom line is testing kits are in short supply in Hawaii and nationwide and should be saved for those who are severely ill and our population’s most vulnerable groups: 

  • Kupuna experiencing symptoms, especially those living in group settings
  • Individuals with other illnesses and weaker immune systems who are experiencing symptoms
  • First responders and frontline healthcare workers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms

I’m in one of these three groups with COVID-19 symptoms. Should I be tested?
Perhaps. But before you go for a test, consult with your primary care provider who will determine whether you really need to be tested for COVID-19 or other respiratory infections, such as the flu.

I’m in one of the three groups, symptomatic and don’t have a primary care provider. What should I do?
Contact an urgent care clinic or community health center in your area for an assessment. Drive-thru screening sites have also opened recently in Kaneohe and Honolulu on Oahu, Old Kona Airport Park on the island of Hawaii, and at the War Memorial Gym parking lot on Maui. These sites typically require an appointment in advance.

Meet “Clara,” CDC’s COVID-19 Self-Checker Chatbot

Chances are you’ve heard of Siri and Alexa virtual assistants. But did you know the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently introduced its very own virtual helper that everyone can use for online COVID-19 self-assessment? Its name is “Clara.” 

Just fire up your computer or mobile device and say “hi” to Clara on the CDC’s website. Clara is a nifty chatbot offering real-time dialogue via a pop-up box right on the CDC’s web pages. Clara asks the questions, and you enter your responses to learn if you should be tested. Best of all, a consult with Clara is always free.

Hawaii Resilience Fund Giving Frontline Aid

In their kuleana for the state, the Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) and Pierre and Pam Omidyar have established the Hawaii Resilience Fund to deploy resources across the Islands to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The fund’s initial $2.5 million seed from HCF, the Omidyar Ohana Fund and other sources is being earmarked to directly support Hawaii’s public health sector and community-based nonprofits. These monies will be used to protect frontline healthcare workers and others who have an essential role in screening or testing people. The fund also supports the expansion of regional test sites and screenings, as well as self-quarantine measures. Want to give to the Hawaii Resilience Fund or learn more about it? Click here.

Hawaii Foodbank Still Hard at Work, Needs Our Support Even More

Good nutrition is essential to staying healthy and building our resistance to illness or to help with recovery. With the threats created by COVID-19, the Hawaii Foodbank is working even harder to make sure everyone in need has access to safe, nutritious food. The Foodbank’s volunteers and staff have packed thousands of emergency boxes filled with non-perishable food items, which allows its food partner agencies and distribution programs to serve people more quickly while practicing social distancing.

Acting as a single statewide ohana, we can all help the Foodbank support members of our communities who rely on them for their meals every day, now more than ever. In addition to its operations on Oahu and Kauai, the Foodbank works closely with the Maui Food Bank, The Food Basket on Hawaii Island and a statewide network of more than 425 food partner agencies across the state. Click here to learn about how you can make a contribution … and a difference.

Got a COVID-19 question, Hawaii? Call 2-1-1

Seeking information or answers to questions about COVID-19? Contact the Aloha United Way public call center by dialing 2-1-1. The center is open to take your call from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. How to reach out?

  • Call: 2-1-1 from anywhere in the state 
  • Text: (877) 275-6569 
  • Email:

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