(BIVN) – 71 inmates at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo have tested positive for COVID-19.
The Hawaiʻi Department of Public Safety said HCCC reported 119 inmate test results were received as part of the mass testing effort underway at the facility. Of that number, 61 were positive and 58 were negative.
One staff member result result came back positive out of the 49 that were tested, as well.
The State says HCCC has enacted their pandemic protocol which includes implementing a facility-wide quarantine of all inmate housing and suspending inmate movement going out of the facility. The facility is in constant contact with the courts to notify them of the status.
“The warden and his staff are working very hard to safeguard everyone and mitigate further spread of the virus,” said Tommy Johnson, PSD deputy director for corrections, in a Saturday news release. “We appreciate the immediate assistance from the Department of Health team assigned to PSD, and I also want to commend the facility health care and security staff who quickly enacted their pandemic plan to isolate, quarantine, and cohort inmates to the best of their ability.”
Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth also responded to the news. “We are aware of the reported spike in positive COVID-19 cases at HCCC and are working with the Hawaiʻi State Department of Public Safety (PSD), Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH), and the County of Hawaiʻi Civil Defense Administration (Civil Defense) to safely address the issue and contain the spread,” Mayor Roth said in a written statement. “We applaud the quick response on behalf of the PSD and thank them for their excellent communication and swift action to address the issue. At this time, we would like to remind residents that the virus is still very much a threat and would like to encourage those in our community to get vaccinated to help keep each other safe. Together we can and will beat this virus and return to normalcy, but it will take all of us. Stay safe, remain cautious, and have a safe and responsible Memorial Day Weekend.”
State officials added:
HCCC staff were notified and encouraged to contact their health care providers if they have questions about possible exposure. Staff have access to full personal protective equipment (PPE) and both inmates and staff are regularly reminded to practice all CDC/DOH health safety measures, including wearing a face covering, frequent hand washing, social distancing, sanitizing common spaces frequently and practicing good hygiene to reduce the risk of transmission.
The Department of Public Safety said it “continues to encourage all staff and inmates to voluntarily receive the COVID vaccination.”