Planning director sends employees home: Close contacts of two employees test positive for COVID-19

  • The Hilo Planning Department is closed due to COVID-19 on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. The department provided a box for residents to drop off permit applications and other correspondence. (Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald)

  • Michael Yee

The county Planning Department office in Hilo was closed to the public and operating Thursday with just two officials at the oars after close contacts of two employees tested positive for coronavirus.

Mayor Harry Kim said Planning Director Michael Yee told all employees to stay home on Thursday after learning late Wednesday that two of the office staff had “close relationship partners” test positive. The two employees were to be tested and were planning on self-quarantining until the results came in, Kim said.

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Yee and Deputy Director April Surprenant were to be the sole employees working in the department Thursday, but other employees are expected to return today, Kim said. He said the usual sanitation procedures will be implemented to clean the office.

Some employees worked from home and others were on paid administrative leave.

There was a drop-off box and a sign in the front of the office Thursday, but no one was staffing the counter.

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Calls to the department Thursday morning went straight to voicemail with no one answering the main line or the director’s line.

“Director Yee made the decision in an overabundance of caution,” Kim said. “But that’s better than the other way around.”

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