40 more HCCC inmates test positive for COVID-19

  • Cars are parked in front of the Hawaii Community Correctional Center in Hilo on June 1. (Kelsey Walling/Hawaii Tribune-Herald)

Dozens more Hawaii Community Correctional Center inmates and one staffer have tested positive for COVID-19, pushing the number of cases associated with current outbreak over 200.

The state Department of Public Safety reported Thursday 40 new COVID-19 cases among inmates and one staff case at the Hilo jail, bringing the total number of cases associated with the facility to 214 since May 24. Sixteen of the cases have been among staffers, two of whom remain hospitalized.

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To date, 79 inmates and nine staff members have recovered, decreasing the total number of active cases associated with inmates at the facility on Friday to 119. One inmate who tested positive was released May 26 after serving their full term.

Two positive cases were first reported at the Hilo jail on May 24 prompting the facility to implement its pandemic protocol status, which calls for a facility-wide quarantine of all inmate housing and suspending inmate movement going out of the facility.

Hawaii Community Correctional Center, as of its last population report issued June 7, housed 344 inmates, which exceeded operational capacity by 118 persons.

Schwartz said DPS facilities follow a pandemic plan based on state and federal guidelines for correctional facilities to medically isolate, quarantine and cohort inmates to the best of their ability.

The 76-page plan can be found online at bit.ly/DPSpandemicresponse.

No other clusters have been under investigation on the Big Island in the last 14 days, according to the state Department of Health’s weekly cluster report, which was issued Thursday.

According to DPS, COVID-19 testing is continuously being conducted at all facilities statewide and the department continues to encourage all staff and inmates to voluntarily get tested and receive a COVID vaccine.

“(DPS) has been working closely with DOH and the District Health Offices on each island to coordinate and provide opportunities for inmates to receive the vaccine on a voluntary basis,” Schwartz said. “The vaccine has been offered several times at HCCC.”

Schwartz said earlier in the week that DPS is looking into the option of temporarily transferring some HCCC inmates to another facility that has adequate space to accommodate them, which would help alleviate the strain overcrowding has placed on the jail.

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As of Friday, however, she said that no inmates have been relocated to other facilities.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald contributed to this report.

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