The number of Oahu Community Correctional Center inmates testing positive for COVID-19 has climbed to 124, up by 38 from the count that the Department of Public Safety gave only Thursday night.
There are currently 968 inmates at the Kalihi jail, so 12.8% of the total population has now tested positive, even though results have been made available for only 2.5 of 19 OCCC modules have completed testing.
Public Safety Nolan Espinda, appearing before the Hawaii Supreme Court this morning, said there were 126 inmates testing positive. But DPS spokeswoman Toni Schwartz later clarified that he misspoke and that the count actually stands at 124.
The state Department of Public Defender late Wednesday filed a petition seeking the immediate release of all non-violent inmates at OCCC, citing safety concerns for both the incarcerated and the facility’s employees.
Attorney General Clare Connors and Honolulu Acting Prosecuting Attorney Dwight Nadamoto oppose a mass release and want requests for inmate release to be considered on a case-by-case basis by lower court judges.
The Hawaii Supreme Court spent two hours hearing arguments from Deputy Public Defender Susan Arnett, Connors and Nadamoto, as well as Espinda.
Espinda said he could not determine how long it will take the Department of Health and the Hawaii National Guard to complete testing of all inmates.
Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald said the court will take the matter under advisement but that he expects some action soon due to the urgent nature of the request.