Details scarce about Target virus outbreak

  • MAGNO

Few official additional details were forthcoming Friday about a cluster of COVID-19 cases among employees of the Target store in Hilo.

Earlier this week, Target issued a statement announcing that multiple employees tested positive for COVID-19, but did not specify how many or when they tested positive. A spokesperson who contacted the Tribune-Herald on Friday declined further comment.

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Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator, said Civil Defense has received inquiries from residents concerned about the superstore but pointed out that, with 632 cases reported on the Big Island since March, Target is not the only business in the county to have multiple employees test positive.

“That’s why we’re doing this widespread testing,” Magno said. “We find the people who test positive, and we look to see who they’ve been in contact with and who they’ve been in contact with to stop it from spreading.”

An anonymous letter to the Tribune-Herald claiming to be from a Target employee said Target management told employees that the infected employees last worked between Sept. 3 and Sept. 9. When the employee asked whether they had been in contact with an infected employee, Target management assured them they had not, but gave no further information, according to the letter.

Nor did the store close to sanitize, the employee wrote. Instead, the employee claimed, one employee is tasked with repeatedly sanitizing frequently touched areas in the store, which the letter writer thought to be woefully inadequate.

Magno said the county has worked with major outlet stores to educate them about acceptable sanitation practices and social distancing policies for employees and customers.

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However, he added, Civil Defense does not know how many COVID-19 cases are tied to Target or when the infections occurred.

Email Mike Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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