Demand for quarantine facilities are high amid COVID surge in Hawaii

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — With the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, experts are seeing just how easily it can spread within households.

To cut down on cases and hospitalizations alike, health experts say there needs to be more places people can go to isolate themselves.

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“It’s almost inevitable to transmit the delta variant to people living in a household,” said Dr. Thomas Lee, an epidemiologist and assistant professor at the University of Hawaii. “So it’s very important to get those positive cases away, make sure they have wraparound services to protect themselves and then be able to integrate back into their family once they’ve recovered.”

The Department of Health provides isolation rooms for people living in shelters, treatment facilities and care homes. As of Thursday, 57 of Oahu’s 64 quarantine rooms were being used. There are 30 people on a waiting list. Dr. Lee says more options should be available.

“The reason why we were so successful is because we had a lot of empty hotels, and they offered their spaces for isolation facilities when tourism was down,” said Dr. Lee.

With tourism booming, there are no plans to bring that back right now.

On Kauai and Oahu, there are isolation services at county-owned facilities. For now, the health department is advising most people to quarantine in their own households.

“Isolate yourself at home, and let those who you’ve been in close contact with know that they may have been exposed,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai District Health Officer. “Your close contacts should quarantine and be tested. Let them know right away. It makes a difference.”

When isolating at home, stay in a separate room, use a separate bathroom, always wear a face mask, avoid touching things around the house and open windows to allow proper air flow.

Health experts hope more quarantine options will become available as COVID-19 numbers continue to climb.

“My hope is that we continue to remember the importance of isolation quarantine facilities as a huge preventative effort,” said Dr. Lee. “Public health is all about prevention. By the time especially with COVID, we see cases rise and hospital patients rise, it’s often too late.”

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The health department is working to secure more isolation sites in each county.

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