Hawaii County tries to contain two virus clusters

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The number of new cases dropped back down into the double digits on Monday. There were 52 new cases reported in the state: 41 on Oahu, 10 on the Big Island and one on Maui. The number of active cases now stands at 2,227. There was also another death reported on Oahu, bringing the state’s death toll to 157.

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The Big Island has been seeing a jump in cases lately, but much of this increase is because of a couple of clusters.

Life Care Center of Hilo says it continues to battle and manage COVID-19. As of Sunday, the facility reports two resident deaths and 21 active cases. There are three staff also currently infected.

“We’ve sent in an infection control prevention team of DOH staff to kind of review policies and to give an idea of how we can help support them to reduce further cases,” said Jason Dela Cruz from the Office of Public Health Preparedness at the Department of Health.

The University of Nations in Kona reports 30 cases of COVID-19 with 22 isolating on campus and eight staff under quarantine in their homes. We’re told some of the staff had been at an event where there was an infected person. A spokesperson tells us only four are travel related.

“When they arrived, they were all rapid tested on arrival,” said Johnny Gillespie of the University of Nations. “Then had PCR follow up tests, which found four infected people among our student body of just over 300 students who arrived. They were immediately isolated.”

Another mass testing will take place on campus for staff and students on Tuesday.

Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which operates several hospitals in Hawaii County, says the spike in cases in the last couple of days is reflected by the two clusters. But the prevalence of the virus in the general community has declined.

“The trend over the last 14 or 21 days, that number has been gradually working its way down as far as overall COVID spread within the community,” said Dan Brinkman, CEO of East Hawaii Region HHSC. “So, you know, it’s like, yeah, we had a big bump. But I believe it is coming down here on the Big Island in general.”

Officials continue to urge the community to do their part to reduce the number of cases on the island.

Brinkman tells us hospitals are also preparing for the state to reopen and upcoming holidays.

“Making sure that we have enough staff, have enough PPE,” he said. “And we use the lessons that we’ve learned here in the last few months. We’ll be ready if we have to be.”

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