HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) released its latest COVID-19 cluster report on Thursday that focuses on cases associated with workplace settings.
DOH encourages employers to consider offering paid sick days for infected employees in order to prevent COVID-19 transmission in the workplace.
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In September, DOH investigated a cluster of seven coronavirus cases tied to an industrial workplace in Maui County. All five employees who tested positive for the virus were unvaccinated. Two secondary cases were identified among household members — those cases were children who are ineligible to get vaccinated.
DOH reported that the first employee with COVID-19 was symptomatic for four days and continued to go to work. The sick employee rode in the same truck with other employees, which could be a contributing factor to the workplace spread. Although the business requires mask wearing, poor ventilation in confined spaces, such as vehicles, increase the risk of transmission.
Of the five employees, three worked while they were sick. All of them reported to the main office — described as small and difficult to maintain six feet of physical distance — at the start and end of their shifts. DOH advises employers to space out shifts to prevent crowding.
Another cluster health officials investigated this month included 31 COVID-19 cases tied to a transportation service on Oahu. The company reported that out of the 15 employees who tested positive for the virus, one was fully vaccinated and another was partially vaccinated. There were 16 secondary cases identified among household members — none of them were vaccinated.
A majority of the infected employees worked in a warehouse with rotating shifts and shared equipment. According to DOH, the company did not manage quarantine periods for those identified as close contacts, which resulted in additional transmission in the workplace.
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Employees who are close contacts — defined as being less than six feet apart for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period of a person with COVID-19 — must quarantine for 10 days if they’re unvaccinated. They should also get tested and monitor for symptoms.