Mayor Caldwell asks DOH to be upfront with COVID-19 cases linked to businesses

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said in a press conference Tuesday morning that he wants the Hawaii Department of Health to be more upfront with COVID-19 cases.

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“If we know more about how the virus is spreading and where it’s spreading, we can take appropriate action,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “So, sharing of information in real time in an open and transparent way without violating someone’s medical privacy is critical.”

In response, the Department of Health said in a statement:

The Hawaii Department of Health is committed to working with the Counties to provide them with the information they require to reduce cases of COVID-19.  We will be working with the Counties and continue to share information to assist in targeted interventions and prevention measures.  The Department of Health will publicize the names of businesses that violate state rules or laws, or create an imminent health risk that requires advising the public.

The Hawaii Department of Health

While some businesses have been quick to alert the public if cases pop up in their business on their own, some are not.

However, the Retail Merchants of Hawaii said being more forthcoming with information is a double-edged sword for businesses, especially when it comes to how customers perceive them.

“They’re like going, ‘Oh I don’t want to go to that store anymore because that’s COVID infested,’” said Tina Yamaki, Retail Merchants of Hawaii President.

But Yamaki said businesses can turn the bad news into a positive by letting customers know what they are doing to keep them safe.

“Letting the public know that we took these steps to ensure that when you come back in, it’s going to be safe to shop in our stores. It’s like ‘Hey, they knew there was a problem. They took care of it and now it’s safe to go back into the stores,’” said Yamaki.

Hawaii Restaurant Association chairman Greg Maples agreed and said it’s something they recommend to restaurants as well.

“When these things do happen, you have to be open and honest about it and let people know what we’re doing to remedy the situation,” said Maples.

He said for restaurants, this means working with the Department of Health to identify any additional cases. It also means keeping people informed on when the restaurant will close for cleaning and if re-training and even new policies are needed and will be implemented.

The Retail Merchants of Hawaii and Hawaii Restaurant Association both get their guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Under CDC guidelines, businesses should already have measures to prevent spread in place, such as a mask policy, plexiglass and cleaning measures. This will prevent any staff who may have COVID-19 from passing it to other employees or customers.

If a COVID-19 case is identified, other staff members who may have had close contact with the infected employee also have to quarantine and get tested.

While the CDC doesn’t recommend closing down, it does recommend cleaning any areas where the employee may have worked.

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