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More COVID cases in E. Hawaii long-term care homes

With 79 new COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday, the number of Big Island infections tallied since the start of the pandemic now totals more than 5,000.

According to the state Department of Health, 5,035 confirmed and probable cases have so far been reported on Hawaii Island.

Hawaii County on Wednesday had an 8% test positivity rate, compared to a 7.5% positivity rate statewide.

Additional COVID-19 cases have been found in Big Island long-term care facilities.

Four employees and 14 residents have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at Life Care Center of Hilo amid a second outbreak in the facility, according to an update posted on the facility’s website Tuesday.

One resident was receiving treatment in the hospital, and one resident recovered. Two employees have recovered.

In an outbreak last fall, prior to the availability of vaccines against the virus, 55 Life Care residents and 17 employees tested positive for COVID-19, and 10 residents died.

Meanwhile, one employee and 14 long-term care residents at Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua in Honokaa have tested positive in a cluster that started at the end of July.

Of the 14 residents, 12 were vaccinated and two were not, said Elena Cabatu, a spokeswoman for Hilo Medical Center — which is part of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp.’s East Hawaii Region, along with Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua, Ka‘u Hospital, Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home and the HMC Extended Care Facility.

According to Cabatu, 95% of residents and 87% of staff at Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua are vaccinated.

Meanwhile, one employee at the veterans home tested positive for the coronavirus in early August, and a second staff member tested positive a week later, Cabatu said. Those cases do not appear related.

During an outbreak in the veterans home last August, 71 residents and 35 employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and 27 residents died.

Cabatu said that 89% of veterans home residents and 90% of staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

The state Department of Public Safety also on Wednesday reported one positive staff test result at Hawaii Community Correctional Center, a day after it said the Hilo jail was free of active cases.

The DOH reported 472 new cases statewide Wednesday as an ongoing surge driven by the highly contagious Delta variant continues.

DOH spokesman Brooks Baehr, however, said Wednesday’s tally is a partial count because the electronic laboratory reporting system was interrupted for approximately 20 hours on Monday and Tuesday.

“As a result of this interruption, there is an unknown number of cases,” he said in an email.

The system was back online Tuesday, and the DOH anticipates the delayed results will be reported in case counts today and Friday.

According to the DOH, an average of 522 new cases statewide have been reported daily from Aug. 3-9.

The DOH on Wednesday also reported two new COVID-related deaths on Oahu. Both were women who were hospitalized with underlying conditions. One woman was 40-49 and the second was over 80.

The state’s lagging vaccination rate also is creeping up.

According to the DOH, 61% of Hawaii residents are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, and 68.5% have completed at least one dose.

In Hawaii County, 57% of people have been fully vaccinated, and 68% have received one dose.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune- herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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