(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense this morning reported seven (7) active cases of COVID-19 are being monitored by the Department of Health on Hawaiʻi Island. As of this morning, there are no new cases and no one is hospitalized on the Big Island.
From this morning’s civil defense message:
Due to the high increase of positive cases on Oahu, State and City and County Officials of Honolulu are reviewing for possible changes on policies. As soon as details are known of any changes that may affect this Island, you will be notified. As previously informed, the increase of positive cases on Hawaii Island these past few days were primarily travel related which emphasizes the importance of caution while traveling. We should all be aware of the need for care in traveling, including travel to Oahu.
We must continue to follow the preventive measures of face coverings, cleanliness, keeping yourself healthy, of staying at home when sick, and special care of gatherings and distancing. Preventative measures are so very important, especially when socializing in groups; please be considerate of those around you. Thank you for help in keeping our neighbors, friends, family, and community safe.
As a reminder, do know the wearing of face masks is mandatory on the Island of Hawaii.
Kona Community Hospital: Incoming Traveling Employees Test Positive
Kona Community Hospital issued this media release on Wednesday evening:
Kona Community Hospital (KCH) has confirmed that two incoming traveling employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Both traveling employees were positively diagnosed prior to beginning work in the hospital, and are now quarantined at home.
Test results for both have been reported to the Hawaii Department of Health.
The two employees, a locum physician and a nurse traveler, tested positive during a mandatory pre-employment testing prior to beginning work at the hospital. Both were asymptomatic and were immediately sent home to quarantine. Neither employee entered the hospital or clinical areas at any time during the pre-employment process.
The hospital’s COVID-19 emergency management plan includes a robust pre-employment testing policy. Protocols require all employees incoming from anywhere out of state must receive a negative COVID test result prior to beginning work in the hospital.
“Our policy to test all incoming traveling employees in advance of working at KCH helps prevent potential exposures within the hospital.” said Interim Chief Nurse Officer Stephanie Irwin, RN, MSN. “We will continue to evaluate our processes to align with the most current scientific data from the Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Additionally, Kona Community Hospital continues daily temperature checks and monitoring of all staff for signs and symptoms of the virus, and providing testing when appropriate.
Rep. Gabbard Calls For Hawaiʻi To Fully Mobilize COVID-19 Contact Tracing Force
From the office of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Wednesday:
Frustrated by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s half-hearted deployment of too few trained contact tracers, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) is calling for answers and for the department to fully mobilize its contact tracing force.
“The sheer number of COVID-19 infections that we are continuing to see blow through the roof require extensive testing and contact tracing. Congress has provided funding for contact tracing, and the Department of Health has over 400 trained contract tracers while only employing around 100 of them. There is no excuse not to actively employ all available, trained contact tracers, along with additional personnel from the Hawai‘i National Guard, to rapidly trace, investigate, and contain every single positive COVID case,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Given the rate of infections we are seeing in Hawai‘i, George Washington University recommends a staffing ratio of at least 40 contact tracers per 100,000 population. If the problem gets worse in Hawai‘i, that ratio will increase. Currently the Hawai‘i Department of Health has deployed less than 19% of that amount. The people of Hawai‘i need a minimum of 564 contact tracers activated and employed immediately. Every hour, every day we delay puts more people in our community at risk.”
Contact tracers are trained to communicate with people who have tested positive for COVID-19, determine who they may have been in contact with, and contact those individuals to quickly implement protective and isolating measures to contain the virus. Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said recently that slightly over 100 Department staff are actively engaged in contact tracing today, while hundreds more are trained but not being utilized.