2 possible COVID-19 cases being looked at in state-run public housing

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The state announced eight new cases of COVID-19 Monday, June 15. Officials say three of the new cases are linked to a new income housing facility, but did not say exactly where. There are also two new cases in Waipahu, one in Pearl City and one in Moanalua. The final case is a resident at Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Hawaii Public Housing Authority executive director Hakim Ouansafi said there also are two possible cases being looked at in state-run public housing. He said the cases have not been confirmed.

“We are aware now of a potential two only cases in a household that [have] not been confirmed. We were told this afternoon that it could be that,” said Ouansafi. “[The Department of Health] are watching closely and as soon as they have the tests coming in, they will let us know.”

Ouansafi didn’t specify where the suspected cases are, but he said, with many people in public housing living close together, it’s worrying that if a case is found, it could spread quickly.

“It’s definitely concerning, the spike is concerning for us as citizens but also concerning for us as operators of large public housing where thousands of people reside,” said Ouansafi.

He said his agency has been doing what it can to support residents, especially now that COVID-19 cases are spiking.

“For anyone, who we are aware of, that may have had a family member or some kind of person or neighbor that could be infected [with COVID-19], we have provided additional care kits that includes sanitizer and other cleaning supplies,” said Ouansafi.

Hawaii Public Housing Authority has also handed out masks and educational flyers, and security at the public housing also work to ensure social distancing is followed in public areas.

Ouansafi said out of the roughly 40-thousand residents that fall under his agency, less than ten have contracted the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said the Department of Health is also stepping up its outreach efforts in low-income areas.

“We have teams going on to knock on doors. We’ve knocked on literally hundreds of doors over the last few weeks letting people know about the disease, making sure they’re not exposing others unnecessarily,” said Anderson.

The resident at Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center who tested positive, originally tested negative on June 12, according to the center’s website. However, this person developed symptoms the next day and was hospitalized. It was there that they took a second test, which turned out to be positive on June 14.

Hale Nani said on their website:

“All residents on the unit where the positive resident resided and the positive staff member worked will be re-tested on Thursday, June 17, along with all care staff of those residents upon the recommendation of the Department of Health.” The Department of Health said four out of the recent eight cases don’t appear to be related to previous ones and are still under investigation.

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