HFD personnel test negative after contact with COVID-19

No additional positive COVID-19 tests cropped up after a West Hawaii battalion chief tested positive for the novel coronavirus earlier this month

A total of five personnel were sidelined after the battalion chief stationed at the Waikoloa Fire Station reported the positive test result to Hawaii Fire Department command on Aug. 3. The battalion chief was asymptomatic at the time of the test, which was administered Aug. 1 in compliance with pre- and post-travel requirements to Oahu. The travel was unrelated to county work.

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After the fire department was notified of the positive result, the entire Waikoloa Fire Station was disinfected. In addition to the battalion chief, four personnel whom he had contact with went into self-quarantine as a precautionary measure.

Before being permitted to return to work, each of the five personnel had to test negative for COVID-19 two times. As of Wednesday, all personnel had tested negative, Hawaii Fire Department Chief Darren Rosario said.

Three of the personnel returned to work on Wednesday while the other two are expected to complete the Department of Health quarantine period today.

“None of our personnel, inclusive of the original member testing positive had any signs or symptoms of illness during this whole period. Operations were not affected as the positions were filled by movements among stations or recall of off-duty personnel,” Rosario said Wednesday. The department boasts approximately 370 personnel serving out of 21 stations.

Meanwhile Wednesday, more than 200 new cases of COVID-19 and four new coronavirus-related deaths were announced by the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center.

Of the 202 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19, 197 were on Oahu, two were on Maui and Hawaii Island and Kauai each reported two cases. The four coronavirus-related deaths were among men over age 40 on Oahu.

With the new cases, Hawaii has now seen 3,958 cases of the novel coronavirus and 38 coronavirus-related deaths since Feb. 28.

Oahu has recorded the majority of the cases with 3,558 cases while Maui County has recorded 191 cases, Hawaii County 135 and Kauai County 51. Twenty-three residents have tested positive while out of the state.

Of the Hawaii residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, 1,665 of those cases have since recovered and been released from isolation. That includes 119 of the 135 known cases on Hawaii Island.

Statewide, 260 patients have required hospitalization, including five on Hawaii Island.

Community spread of the coronavirus, particularly on Oahu, continues to be the primary cause of new infections, the center said in a press release.

“The important factor to keep in mind is, community-associated infections continue to be the responsible for the surge in COVID-19 cases in the past week and a half. The virus is transmitted though droplets, and that’s why wearing masks and distancing is so important,” Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said. “We must all continue these and other safe practices.”

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The deaths of two of the Oahu men, both over 60-years-old, were reported Tuesday but included in case counts Wednesday, according to the center. The third and fourth deaths reported Wednesday are men 40-59 years old, at least one of whom had underlying health conditions.

Of the 38 people who have died, 31 were from Oahu, six from Maui and one was a Kauai resident receiving treatment in Arizona at the time he died.

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