Hawai‘i Health Department Addresses Discrepancy in Hilo COVID-19 Deaths
The state Department of Health reports that it is aware of six additional deaths associated with COVID-19 at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo; however, it is awaiting medical records from the facility as part of its official confirmation and documentation process.
To date, the state has confirmed three COVID-19 deaths in Hawai‘i County. Meantime, the Hilo Medical Center is reporting a total of 10 deaths, all at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home.
Testing was scheduled to take place on staff and residents of the facility on Wednesday. Hawaii News Now reports that out of 74 residents, 63 have now tested positive. Two additional employees also tested positive, bringing the total to 22.
Three days ago, US Senator Brian Schatz called for immediate federal intervention into the outbreak at the Hilo facility.
“We need to contain this outbreak immediately, and we need federal help,” said Sen. Schatz. “I’m calling on the VA to immediately step in and deploy infection control experts and other health care professionals to the Big Island to get this under control. This is a public health emergency, and we need all the help we can get to stop this outbreak and save lives.”
Meantime, US Representative Tulsi Gabbard issued a statement this afternoon saying: “Our nation’s heroes and their families made profound sacrifices for the country we love, and it is our honor to care for them in their time of need. Losing ten of my fellow veterans at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home to COVID-19 leaves a profound hole in our hearts.
“It is unconscionable that these veterans who selflessly sacrificed so much now find themselves struggling to survive under the threat of this virus — yet another consequence of the lack of testing and contact tracing should have been in place months ago, that continues to plague our state,” said Rep. Gabbard.
The Congresswoman said she is in close contact with those responsible for managing the facility to help provide support to contain this outbreak and “prevent more undue suffering and loss of life.”
The Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home is located at 1180 Waianuenue Avenue and is managed by Avalon Care Center.
In addition to testing at the veterans’s home, testing is also taking place at other care homes on Hawai‘i Island. S&G Labs has also completed testing of all staff and residents at the Life Care Center of Hilo and Hale Anuenue Restorative Care Center. All of those test results came back negative. Retesting is now being scheduled in both facilities as part of a comprehensive testing plan.
There were 100 new COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i on Wednesday including 88 on O‘ahu and 12 on Hawai‘i Island. There were no cases reported on Maui on Wednesday.
Meantime, Hawai‘i’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 91 with the passing of three more O‘ahu residents reported on Wednesday. All three were men who had underlying medical conditions. Two were in the 60 to 69-year-old age group and the third was in the 70 to 79-year-old age group.