HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Life Care Center of Hilo is seeing another COVID-19 cluster within the facility, with 10 residents sick. One of them is hospitalized.
The cluster began on Wednesday, July 21, when an unvaccinated associate tested positive.
About 95% of the residents and 80% of staff are vaccinated. The rising numbers are concerning for other long-term care facilities.
“The positivity rate out in the community is scaring us, because now we look at everybody else as infected, you have to, right,” said Darlene Nakayama, CEO of Palolo Chinese Home.
According to the CDC, COVID-19 case rates in Hawaii nursing homes rose in July. That is causing Palolo Chinese Home to enforce extra precautions.
“Our visitors are very cognizant about coming in wearing a mask and if they’re not vaccinated, they have to visit behind the shield,” said Nakayama.
The facility also requires all unvaccinated staff to screen test once per week. Health officials said these measures are essential to keep the most vulnerable safe.
“There’s still a small proportion of individuals who are fully vaccinated, especially those who are older or frail or who have compromised systems, are still susceptible to getting the disease,” said Hilton Raethel, Healthcare Association of Hawaii president and CEO.
Many Hawaii hospitals are continuing to see a surge of COVID-19 patients.
“Earlier this week, we had six patients hospitalized for COVID and then when you wake up the next morning, we had 12,” said Elena Cabatu, Hilo Medical Center.
Hilo Medical Center said its emergency room looks like peak pandemic days. To mitigate those numbers, all visitors will be required to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination starting Monday, Aug. 9.
“Limiting the amount of visitors is just in line with us also requiring our staff to become vaccinated when we have at full FDA approval. So we really are trying to do our best to protect our patients and staff,” said Cabatu.
Long-term care facilities may follow hospitals’ lead on restrictions if the current positivity rate of 6.2% continues to rise.
“It’s 10% and there is a line that gets drawn, that if the community gets really widespread that we have to close down visitations,” Nakayama said.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii also said they are working with the Health Department and HiEMA to bring more staff to support Hawaii hospitals and nurses.