Big Island’s aggressive testing leading to high case count

Coronavirus

HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — The Life Care Center of Hilo reported that two more residents died over the weekend, bringing their death toll to 10. The Big Island is also seeing new clusters. It’s a concern as case numbers were higher than Oahu’s at one point over the weekend.

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The governor says Mayor Harry Kim has developed an aggressive testing schedule and identified the communities where they had anticipated there would be clusters of cases.

“And they’ve had mass testing and surge testing in those communities over the weekend and that’s what lead to the case count,” said Governor Ige.

While the county reports only 9 new active cases as of Monday, 51 cases were reported the day before. When we spoke to Mayor Kim on Sunday, he said those cases were concentrated in the districts of North Kona, South Hilo, and Kau. Clusters were seen in 2 housing areas and 1 subdivision. On Monday, the Mayor tells us he reached out to the Governor for assistance to house more infected people.

“Because we found so many in the past two or three weeks, the facilities that we had identified for that purpose is rapidly full, and I need money to help. He graciously said they will help,” said Mayor Kim.

Mayor Kim identified communities to offer county-funded testing by working with the state which records all test results.

“It is that report that they review with us and make recommendations where they think clusters are beginning or where we should be concerned,” said the Mayor.

For weeks, officials from the Health Department and Hawaii County have been reaching out to people at public housing sites or large apartment complexes. We’re told they’ve been focusing on the vulnerable population that may be low income or may not have access to health care.

“So some of them that we’ve gone through, had no positives, and then you know, lo and behold, when we go there, and we start testing, and give them an option, we find positives. We might go there because we have a few positives,” said Jason Dela Cruz of the DOH Office of Public Health Preparedness.

Dela Cruz believes the Big Island’s surge going on right now largely has to do with community based transmission.

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