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Mother and son among 7 Honolulu city employees with positive coronavirus tests

Two more city employees have now tested positive for COVID-19 — a Halawa base yard worker who clears sewage wastewater drains, and his mother, who works for the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

This makes for seven known Honolulu city employees who have tested positive since the outbreak started in late February in Hawaii.

The mother and son live together with the man’s father, who also works for the city’s Department of Environmental Services Collection System Maintenance Division but has different responsibilities, according to ENV Director Lori Kahikina.

The mother and son were tested Friday and their positive results came back Saturday. The son was tested after losing his senses of smell and taste, said Dr. Jill Omori, who works for the city.

The revelations of two new cases among city workers came as Hawaii saw its highest number of daily cases —41 — today since the beginning of the pandemic.

The number of cases across the state has now jumped to 1,071.

The other city employees who are known to have been infected with COVID-19 include a Waipahu Summer Fun manager, who tested positive Saturday, and a driver for TheBus, who was diagnosed in late June. In addition, two Honolulu firefighters and one Honolulu Police Department employee were infected earlier in the outbreak.

Workers who clear wastewater drains typically go out in the same truck with a crew of four, Kahikina said.

Seven employees who recently worked with the Halawa employee who tested positive have been asked to self-quarantine, according to Dr. Omori, who reached out to all the employees.

Kahikina said she has since reinforced recommendations calling for the wearing of masks, frequent hand sanitation and other precautions among the Department of Environmental Services Collection System Maintenance Division.

The workers who clear wastewater storm drains deal in smelly environments and it can be difficult to keep their masks clean, Kahikina acknowledged.

Correction: There have been seven known coronavirus-positive city employees. An earlier version of this story said there have been four, and did not include the HFD and HPD workers.
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