No new COVID-19 cases reported for Big Island

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

For the first time in several weeks, the state Department of Health has reported no new COVID-19 cases on Hawaii Island.

The state DOH on Monday reported 90 cases, statewide, all of which were on Oahu.

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A total of 15 COVID-positive patients were hospitalized at Hilo Medical Center as of Monday afternoon, including two in the hospital’s intensive care unit, 12 in its COVID Unit and one in its Extended Care Facility.

No additional deaths have been reported on Hawaii Island.

Of the 28 deaths previously reported, 26 have been residents at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.

As of Monday, 71 residents and 35 employees of the Hilo vets home have tested positive for the virus in the last month.

According to an update posted on the facility’s website Monday, 10 of those residents are being cared for in a dedicated COVID-19 unit at the facility, three are being cared for at Hilo Medical Center, and 32 have recovered.

Twenty-nine staff members have also recovered.

No further details were available Monday about the transition of the operations and management of Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.

It was announced Friday that the East Hawaii Region of the Hawaii Health Systems Corp. — which consists of Hilo Medical Center, Ka‘u Hospital and Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua — will take over operations and management of the Hilo veterans home from Avalon Health Care.

Friday’s announcement came amid calls for Avalon’s removal as the Hilo veterans home grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak which began in late August.

East Hawaii Region administrators said Monday they will be working over the next two weeks on a timeline for the transition.

Elsewhere in Hilo, additional residents of Life Care Center of Hilo have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

According to a post on the facility website, there were no active cases of COVID-19 in residents on Thursday, but a resident tested positive Friday and two residents received positive results on Saturday.

Residents were tested again Sunday.

A total of six residents have tested positive, one of whom has recovered, according to the update. Four employees have tested positive, two of whom have recovered.

Additional questions emailed to administrators and Life Care Centers of America were not answered by press time.

Cases have also been reported recently at Hale Anuenue Restorative Care Center and Legacy Hilo Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

The state Department of Health said it cannot provide information on individual ongoing case investigations.

“The Hawaii Department of Health now has feet on the ground in the Big Island and can better assess infection control measures and plans, including conducting site visits and reviewing infection control program components and cluster readiness, and can provide immediate on-site recommendations,” the state COVID-19 Joint Information Center said in an email. “We do not expect Hale Anuenue, Life Care and Hilo Medical Center to have a large extensive outbreak such as Yukio. All long-term care facilities have learned from the situation and are proactively implementing infection control measures.”

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Additionally, long-term care facilities are now required to do point-of-care antigen testing, which can help such facilities detect early COVID-19 threats by staff members and implement early infection control measures, the JIC wrote.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.