COVID-19 hits Hilo nursing home, 15 total test positive


HILO, Hawaii (KHON2) — UPDATE 10/02 11:18 a.m. : There are currently 12 resident cases total. 11 resident cases remain active with one resident fully recovered. Additionally, there are three active associate cases. Another three associates have fully recovered and are no longer considered active cases.

There’s a new outbreak of COVID-19 cases at a nursing home on the Big Island.

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The Life Care Center of Hilo announced on Oct. 1 that 12 residents and three workers tested positive.

The home reported on Sept. 23 that a non-direct care associate tested positive in the community. Two days later on Sept. 25, the facility tested all staff. That same day, a resident tested positive and was immediately moved to an isolated COVID-19 unit.

The next day, two more residents tested positive and were moved. Now, efforts are underway to ensure that the cluster is contained.

“We met ’til late (Wednesday) and our team of people they have on contract tested this morning all of the workers there and residents again,” Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim informed. “And they’re gonna be tested again and again throughout the week at Life Care. All of it is very simple. You have a very combustible situation there. Critical importance of double-checking, triple-checking … working together to make sure this is not gonna be a very explosive like it did at veterans home.”

Over at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo, there were no new deaths reported on Thursday. Of the 71 residents who tested positive for COVID-19, 38 recovered.

So far, 27 veterans with COVID-19 have passed away at the veterans home. Hawaii County Councilmember Aaron Chung said he sees a community in mourning.

“The first word that comes to mind is a sense of helplessness,” Chung said. “The family members of those residents in the nursing homes are not able to visit their loved ones during this time, so it’s been very frustrating.”

Chung said that the council continues to brainstorm options to mitigate the ongoing outbreaks. He said an idea from the community they considered was to move residents who tested negative back home or to another facility, but still receive care from a skilled nurse.

He is for the idea but it needs more vetting to determine if coronavirus relief funds could be used towards those efforts.

“My understanding—after talking with the mayor’s COVID team—that it would probably be an improper use of the CARES Act money,” Chung said. “But this is a real hard-working group that the mayor has assembled so they are trying their best to see if that can work.”

About 16% of the COVID-19 cases on the Big Island are connected to nursing homes.

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