Another death reported at state veterans home

  • Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo. (Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald)

A sixth death related to COVID-19 has been reported at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.

“Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the families and friends of those we have lost to this historic pandemic,” said Allison Griffiths, a spokeswoman for Avalon Health Care Group, which manages the Hilo facility. “Our staff sees the residents they care for as part of their own families, and every loss is a tragedy. That is why (we) are doing everything we can to limit additional spread of the virus and ensure those who have tested positive to receive the best medical care possible.”


“It’s pretty scary,” said the daughter of a 93-year-old man who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19 at the veterans home. “I feel for all of the families that are affected because it’s hitting a lot of people. …”

“It’s sad,” the woman, who lives out of state and spoke to the Tribune-Herald on a condition on anonymity, continued. “It just shows how quickly this virus spread, from the date this was first discovered there, to how rapidly it has affected the residents.”

The woman said her father remains symptom-free but wants to be retested on the chance his initial positive result was wrong.

“He’s doing pretty good,” his daughter said, but is anxious to get his next result.

She said her father feels the result may have been a false positive, and if he doesn’t have the coronavirus, the longer he is in the facility’s COVID-19 unit, the more likely he could contract it.

“We certainly understand the concerns of the family of the resident,” Griffiths said.

However, while testing cycles continue at the facility, Griffiths said U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance does not call for retesting residents who have tested positive with a PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, test.

The CDC also is no longer recommending retesting COVID-positive residents at the end of 14 days, she said.

“If it has been 10 days since a positive test, and the resident has not had signs or symptoms for 24 hours, the resident is no longer contagious and will typically be moved off the COVID unit,” Griffiths explained.

One additional resident also has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 47, according to an update posted on the Yukio Okutsu website.


No veterans home residents were hospitalized in Hilo Medical Center as of Friday, and 41 of those residents were being cared for in the home’s COVID-19 unit.Eighteen staff members also have tested positive.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.

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