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Coronavirus outbreak at Hilo jail grows to a total of 119 inmates, 16 staff

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A coronavirus outbreak at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo has grown to include 119 inmates and 16 staff, the state Department of Public Safety reported today. Two staff are hospitalized.

DPS said the higher totals come after 40 recently tested inmates and one employee were positive for COVID-19.

Even though the state prioritized vaccinating Hawaii inmates at the start of the COVID vaccine rollout, public safety officials have said many inmates have declined the shots.

Hawaii’s jails and prisons, many of which are severely overcrowded and have poor ventilation, have been hotbeds of coronavirus outbreaks since the start of the pandemic. The Hilo jail was designed to hold 206 inmates, for example, but as of the latest count housed 344.

“The Department of Public Safety continues to encourage all staff and inmates to voluntarily get tested and receive the COVID vaccination,” the department said in a press release.

The department has said that it doesn’t track the number of guards who are vaccinated.

DPS has provided the number of vaccines that it has administered to inmates at its facilities, but because the population is transient it’s not clear what percentage of inmates are protected against the virus at any given time.

Public Safety officials said last month that it had vaccinated 140 inmates at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center.

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More information on testing data and outbreaks within the facilities can be found here: http://dps.hawaii.gov/blog/2020/03/17/coronavirus-covid-19-information-and-resources/.

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