Hawaii has ordered Arizona-based Embry Health to stop conducting Covid-19 tests and fined it $207,000 for failing to get the necessary state authorization to administer the tests.

The Department of Health said the company has several sites around Oahu where people could drop off Covid tests in order to be sent to a laboratory for testing. However, the state said it did not have permission to do so.

The company was fined $1,000 for every day of noncompliance, which added up to 207 days, the Department of Health said.

A medical technician displays how to prepare a COVID-19 swab sample during a testing event at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu, HI, Monday, November 30, 2020. (Ronen Zilberman photo Civil Beat)
A medical technician displays how to conduct a Covid-19 swab during a test event at the Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. Ronen Zilberman/Civil Beat/2020

The agency also issued a cease-and-desist order to Embry Health to force them to stop operating their collection sites for Covid tests. The company is also required to confirm the closure of its Covid collection sites in writing to the state and get state approval before opening any more.

In a statement, Embry Health said that the company has administered more than 2.5 million Covid tests and wants to work with Hawaii.

“We have a popular, easily accessible, and comprehensive COVID-19 testing services program, and we will continue to stand by our commitments to the health and safety of the people of Hawaii,” the company said. “In the absence of widespread public testing services throughout the state, Embry Health vows to work with local governing authorities to ensure that its testing program can resume as quickly as possible.”

But the Department of Health said in a press release that the agency “made repeated attempts to work with Embry Health to secure the necessary certification or approval.”

The company withdrew its certification application nearly three weeks ago on Oct. 19, according to the state. The Health Department, along with the City and County of Honolulu, then investigated the company.

“The investigation determined that Embry Health was operating collection depots without clinical laboratory certification or written permission from DOH as required by law,” the company said.

The state said that Hawaii residents who got tested for Covid through Embry Health should ask their doctors about whether they should be retested.

Click here to read the full cease and desist order from the Health Department.

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