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Honolulu COVID quarantine sites will transition to affordable housing, city officials say

The City and County of Honolulu is phasing out its isolation-quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients on Oahu due to a drop in demand.

City officials said the number of rooms needed for isolation-quarantine dropped from 58 in January to less than five by mid-March, and that as of Wednesday, only two individuals remained at Harbor Arms, one of its two facilities.

Due to the decreased need, the city will no longer be using the Harbor Arms in Aiea and West Loch Modular building in Ewa Beach as COVID isolation-quarantine facilities, officials said. Instead, the facilities will be used for their original purpose — to provide affordable housing for low-income residents.

West Loch, which has been vacant since the end of February, will be ready to welcome its first residents on April 1. Harbor Arms will continue to house two occupants before transitioning to affordable housing.

Mayor Rick Blangiardi thanked the city’s non-profit partners Aloha United Way, Banquet Solutions Hawaii, and North Shore Mental Health for their services.

“With their help, along with the hard work from multiple City departments, we were able to continue services at Harbor Arms when statewide coordinated ISO/Q operations by the State of Hawaii ceased operations in December,” said Blangiardi in a news release. “We were even able to stand up an additional ISO/Q facility at West Loch on short notice when nearly 300 COVID-19 patients were filling up our hospital beds each day at the end of January. This entire ISO/Q effort between our contract service providers and City departments is an example of teamwork at its finest.”

Honolulu County took over operations of Harbor Arms on Jan. 1 after the state handed over responsibility for providing them over to counties in Hawaii. It opened the West Loch isolation-quarantine facility Jan. 31.

Over the past three months, the county was able to provide isolation-quarantine accommodations for over 215 Oahu individuals and families who otherwise did not have a safe place to do so.

Officials said the city is prepared to open up a COVID isolation-quarantine facility at its Resource Center in Iwilei should the need for one arise in the future. The facility would offer 27 units at the former Montgomery Motors location.

“The City will continue to monitor current and future conditions and consult with our leaders in healthcare as we navigate the changing COVID-19 pandemic,” officials said in the news release. “Residents are encouraged to prioritize good public health practices, get vaccinated and boosted to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.”

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