Maui County reports coronavirus cluster among hospital staff; statewide case count reaches 435

  • In this April 2, 2020 photo provided by the U.S. Air National Guard, Senior Airmen Benjamin Suiso and Andrew Tolentino, 154th Medical Group medics, inspect and inventory masks prior to distribution to medical organizations across Hawaii in Honolulu. Airmen and soldiers from the Hawaii National Guard have been activated to State Active Duty to assist with Hawaii's COVID-19 response. (Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz/U.S. Air National Guard via AP)

  • In this April 2, 2020 photo provided by the U.S. Air National Guard, Senior Airman Benjamin Suiso and Staff Sgt. Joey Paulino of the 154th Medical Group medical Airmen explain the mask inspection process to Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green. Green was appointed by Hawaii Governor David Ige to be the health care liaison for the State of Hawaiii in Honolulu. Airmen andsSoldiers from the Hawaii National Guard have been activated to State Active Duty to assist with Hawaii's COVID-19 response. (Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz/U.S. Air National Guard via AP)

  • This April 7, 2020 photo from the Hawaii Army National Guard shows Spc. Makoa Frias and fellow Hawaii National Guard soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry standing ready to medically screen all passengers and crew arriving on a flight from Dallas in Honolulu. HING soldiers began assisting the Airport Fire Department with screening of arriving and departing passengers on April 6, and plan to continue to assist throughout the COVID-19 response. (Sgt. John Schoebel/Army National Guard via AP)

  • This April 6, 2020 photo from the Hawaii Army National Guard shows Spc. James Kamaka, 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry, Hawaii National Guard screening departing passengers at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu. HING soldiers began assisting the Airport Fire Department with screening of arriving and departing passengers on April 6, and plan to continue to assist throughout the COVID-19 response. (Sgt. John Schoebel/Army National Guard via AP)

HONOLULU — Health officials said Wednesday they have identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases at Maui island’s only hospital as it disclosed 15 employees of the facility have tested positive.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said the Maui Memorial Medical Center employees have been sent home to self-isolate. He said plans were being made to isolate the workers at a quarantine site away from their families.

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Bruce Anderson, the director of the state Department of Health, said the first case at the hospital was identified in mid-March and many of the initial cases were related to travel. He said it was only Tuesday when the state epidemiologist saw the connections between subsequent cases and recognized the virus had likely been transmitted between workers and from patient to worker.

He said all those who have had close contact with the employees will be tested.

Statewide, there have been 435 cases including 25 newly reported Wednesday. Of the new cases, 16 were in Honolulu, six were in Maui County and there were three in Hawaii County.

Of the cases, 328 have been from Honolulu, 54 from Maui County, 26 from Hawaii County and 18 from Kauai County. In addition, two Hawaii residents have tested positive outside of Hawaii and seven cases have yet to be assigned a county.

Through noon Wednesday, six Hawaii residents have died and 42 people have required hospitalization.

Maui Health System said its staff members have been trained in the latest U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols to safely care for COVID-19 patients. The organization said it has safety precautions and equipment in place.

Gov. David Ige said he has appointed former Hawaiian Electric CEO Alan Oshima to develop and carry out plans to help the state recover from the virus.

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“We are in a crisis. This is unprecedented,” Oshima said. He pledged to bring together people from the business, nonprofit, culture and art sectors to address the needs of the community “post-COVID-19.”

Nearly one-quarter of Hawaii’s work force applied for unemployment benefits in March as restaurants, hotels and other businesses shut down to contain the spread of the virus.

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