The Department of Health announced 21 new positive cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, April 18.
Seventeen of the new cases were from Hawaii County, where there was a cluster of COVID-19 cases among the McDonald’s restaurants in Kailua-Kona.
Two McDonald’s restaurants, one at Kona Commons and one within the Kailua-Kona Walmart, remain closed after 14 positive cases were identified last week.
On Saturday, the DOH reported there have been a total of 29 confirmed cases associated with that cluster, including 17 employees and 12 household members.
The DOH said it is conducting contact tracing for new cases and continuing to monitor employees and family members, all of whom are in isolation or quarantine.
Hawaii island Mayor Harry Kim said he doesn’t believe one worker spread it at both locations, “but it’s from the same family that was working at both places.”
He said all employees at both locations were tested last week.
Lt. Governor Dr. Josh Green said he doesn’t believe customers have been impacted by the cluster.
Up until this week, Hawaii island saw few COVID-19 cases. The new cluster makes up nearly half of the county’s total cases dating back to Feb. 28.
“They would be extremely low risk,” he said.
“I have not heard of any customers and the likelihood after just a couple of seconds of being in contact with somebody is extremely low that you would catch it. The reason you’re seeing it from the co-workers is because they were spending 8-10 hours in a shift together,” he explained.
Lt. Gov. Green said it’s important for food handlers to be extra vigilant when it comes to hygiene.
“It’s important to wash your hands three, four, five times as often if they’re working with food or preparing food,” he said.
Both Mayor Kim and Lt. Gov. Green said this cluster shows how quickly the virus can spread.
“We only had a couple cases here on Oahu, with the largest population, but the bad news is that a hot spot emerged in Kona and that just shows you how fast it can happen. It can happen extraordinarily fast so people need to keep their guard up, if you have any symptoms, do not go near people,” Lt. Gov. Green said.
“It’s a small setback for Big Island, but in general, that state is moving forward in a good way,” he continued.
“We’re right at the cusp of being able to knock this thing out and we have 12 days or so left in the month and we can knock it out in this time, but it’s also why we can’t suddenly lift the home isolation because if we lift it we’d see explosive growth,” Lt. Gov. Green said.
Drive thru testing will take place at several locations on Hawaii island this coming week.
On Sunday, April 19, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hilo Civic Center
On Monday, April 20, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Keauhou Shopping Center in Kona
On Thursday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Keauhou Shopping Center in Kona
Screenings will take place at St. Jude Episcopal Church in Ocean View on Wednesday, April 22 from 10 a.m. to noon.