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Cluster of COVID-19 cases associated with Kona fast-food outlets remains at 12

The number of cases associated with two Kailua-Kona McDonald’s restaurants remained steady at a dozen Wednesday, reported state health officials.

“These (12) individuals are all in isolation/quarantine, and the department is establishing appropriate controls to prevent any additional spread,” said state Health Director Bruce Anderson during Tuesday’s state COVID-19 briefing streamed online.

All contacts of the 12 individuals have been identified, Anderson said, noting the state Department of Health “is still following up on some of those.” He did not respond to a question regarding pending test results connected to the cluster.

The seven staff members worked at McDonald’s locations at Kona Commons and inside the Kona Walmart, which remain closed Wednesday. Five family members who tested positive were exposed to two staff members.

“Any close contacts are being isolated and quarantined for all 12 cases,” Anderson said, also noting a figure of 14 cases associated with the restaurant and reported by various media outlets Tuesday was incorrect because of a counting error.

The health director did not address a question submitted twice by West Hawaii Today regarding the public’s concern about interacting with staff who were not wearing personal protective equipment during the exchange of money during the past few weeks.

On Tuesday, state health officials said there was no “significant risk” to the public after the 12 cases were announced. According to DOH, the Food and Drug Administration has thus far found no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, as of Wednesday, 20,535 people statewide have been tested by state and private labs, with 2.6% of those tests returning positive.

“Our rate of positive testing is probably one of the lowest in the county, if not the lowest, which suggests that the disease is not widespread here,” Anderson said, “nevertheless we are seeing some evidence of limited community spread and a number of clusters of illness, which, of course, are concerning.”

Email Chelsea Jensen at cjensen@westhawaiitoday.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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