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COVID-19 cases grow to cluster of 14 employees at Public Safety training center

The Department of Public Safety reported this afternoon a COVID-19 cluster of a total of 14 employees at its Training and Staff Development building.

Two cases were confirmed on Wednesday, and the department confirmed today 12 more tested positive.

The Department of Health is conducting contact tracing and voluntary testing was occurring this morning for all employees who work at the TSD building.

Public Safety, which oversees all the state’s jails and prisons, said the vaccine was offered to all employees through community distribution clinics and mobile points of distribution.

Large clusters of cases developed early in the pandemic at Oahu Community Correctional Center and at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, where some Hawaii inmates are housed.

In a written response to questions from the Star-Advertiser, Public Safety said it cannot provide a percentage of employees who have chosen to be vaccinated.

“Staff are not required to report their private medical information, including if they have been vaccinated,” Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz said in an email response.

“Vaccinations are a critical part of the Department of Public Safety’s (PSD) efforts to mitigate spread of the virus among our employees as well as the inmate population,” she said.

The department does encourage all employees and inmates to voluntarily receive the COVID-19 vaccination. Any staff found to have had close contact with a known positive case will be told to self-quarantine, she said.

A corrections recruit graduation planned for today was postponed.

“We don’t yet know the impact this will have on the recruit class training,” Schwartz said. “PSD is evaluating the situation and awaiting further guidance from DOH to determine next steps.”

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