The Hawaii Department of Health’s cluster report this week focuses on the outbreak at the Hilo Community Correctional Center on Hawaii island, which has grown to 224 COVID-19 cases.
As of Monday, DOH says 199 inmates and 18 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19, and that there are another seven secondary cases among staff household contacts. Two staff members were hospitalized.
Currently, 212 inmates remain in isolation or quarantine. No deaths from the cluster have been reported.
Health officials said vaccination rates for both inmates and staff were below state vaccination rates when the first COVID-19 case was identified at the Hilo jail. Although the state prioritized Hawaii inmates at the start of the its vaccine rollout, public safety officials said many declined to get them.
“The Department of Health has been working directly with the correctional facility to provide mitigation recommendations, including cohorting, routine testing, and best practices for infection prevention and control in correctional facilities,” said officials in the cluster report. “The infection prevention and control measures recommended include vaccinating both inmates and staff, access to and consistent use of personal protective equipment by staff and masks by inmates, and COVID-19 testing and quarantine for all inmates upon intake.”
Officials said vaccination is the primary strategy to preventing the spread of the coronavirus at correctional facilities, and that it has held on-site clinics for inmates and staff. At a June clinic, 20 inmates were vaccinated.
The department is also working with the Department of Public Safety to offer routine testing with rapid COVID tests to identify cases earlier.
A total of 11 clusters, meanwhile, are under investigation across various categories in all four counties, including Kauai County, which oftentimes has none.
The report, published Thursday, reflects clusters under investigation for the past two weeks:
>> On Oahu, officials are investigating two clusters at restaurants with 24 cases, a cluster in the construction & industrial category with nine cases, and a cluster in the travel, lodging & tourism category resulting in 12 cases.
>> On Maui County, officials are investigating two clusters at educational settings that resulted in 16 cases, a cluster at a shelter with nine cases, and a cluster at a restaurant that resulted in six cases. Additionally, officials are investigating a cluster from a social gathering that resulted in 26 cases.
>> On Hawaii island, officials say the cluster at a correctional facility now totals 224 cases.
>> On Kauai County, officials are investigating a cluster at a place of worship that resulted in 10 cases.