August 8, 2022

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Aged lady, 92, pressured to attend outdoor health facility for hours after a fall over a Covid check bungle

Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Question: With the advent of self-testing...

Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story!

Question: With the advent of self-testing for COVID-19, incomplete case counts reported to and by the health department are becoming even less useful. By contrast, wastewater monitoring is increasingly considered a comprehensive barometer of COVID- 19 in a community, even an early-warning system. It doesn’t depend on individuals being tested, or reporting test results. Where is Hawaii on wastewater testing?
Answer: Just getting started, at least on a broad, ongoing scale.
People infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can shed it in their feces, even if they don’t have symptoms. The virus can be detected in wastewater, so analyzing water that has been flushed down the toilet gauges virus levels in the population using that sewer system.
In September 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the National Wastewater Surveillance System to help health departments track COVID-19 this way. On Friday, the CDC added wastewater data to its online COVID- 19 Data Tracker, making it easy for the public to access the information. The tool includes Hawaii, but no wastewater statistics are available because the state hasn’t yet reported any.
The State Laboratories Division of Hawaii’s Department of Health “participates in CDC’s COVID-19 National Wastewater Surveillance System meetings, but we are just getting started with wastewater testing,” Edward P. Desmond, the division’s administrator, said in an email Friday.
“We have purchased refrigerated wastewater sampling devices and a droplet digital PCR machine, which can be used for quantitative molecular detection of SARS-CoV-2 and other bacteria and viruses in wastewater. Because we are just getting started, we don’t have any reports yet,” he said.
A postdoctoral fellow will spend part of her time on wastewater testing and a wastewater microbiologist will be hired (candidates were interviewed Friday), he said. The Honolulu County Department of Environmental Services also will be involved, a spokesman said.
The state lab plans to maintain monitoring long term, Desmond said. Eventually, it hopes to conduct multiple COVID-19 analyses using wastewater, including tests that: monitor community levels using samples from regional wastewater treatment plants; potentially detect new variants before individual cases are identified; and detect COVID-19 or other viruses in congregate living facilities such as dormitories, nursing homes, hospitals, jails and prisons.
With your question, you included a link to a Feb. 2 commentary in the Washington Post by Joseph G. Allen, an associate professor and director of the Healthy Buildings program at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Allen wrote that COVID-19 levels in waste­water are among the best early indicators of the disease’s spread and that the metric is underutilized. He wrote that “it could be one of our country’s best tools for tracking diseases — and not just COVID-19.”
Two other metrics (case counts and positivity rates) are “deeply flawed and getting worse,” according to Allen; neither includes at-home tests.
See COVID-19 wastewater data from cities or states reporting the information at
Q: There are a lot of feral chickens and roosters outside Kaiser High School and sometimes near the fire station on one side of Lunalilo Home Road, and they are crossing the road (no joke) to our residences. What can we do?
A: Whoever oversees the property where feral fowl reside is responsible for abating the nuisance, according to a fact sheet posted by Honolulu County’s Department of Customer Services, Based on the fact sheet, the state is responsible on public school property, the city at the fire station, and you are responsible for feral chickens on your property and may hire a wildlife removal service.
On Jan. 9, I was paying for my purchases at TJ Maxx Pearlridge when I dropped a dollar bill from my wallet without realizing it. As I headed toward the exit, a young woman came running after me with the dollar bill that I had dropped. It wasn’t a big amount and she could have easily picked it up and kept it, but instead took the time to run after me to return it. What a beautiful young lady. Thank you for your honesty and kindness! — M.S.

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Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, HI 96813; call 808-529-4773; or email [email protected]

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