COVID-19 cluster prompts closure, cleaning of Kona fast food eateries

Updated: Apr. 14, 2020 at 5:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department is investigating a cluster of coronavirus cases linked to two fast food eateries in Kona.

Officials said seven workers linked to two McDonald’s locations, Kona Commons and the Kailua-Kona Walmart, have tested positive for COVID-19 and five of their family members have also been infected.

“As soon as we were notified of the confirmed cases, we immediately closed the restaurant and have conducted a thorough sanitization procedure as well as notify local public health authorities,” said Patrick Lim, McDonald’s owner operator, in an emailed statement.

“Additionally, we have also added protective barriers to limit contact in our restaurants.”

And the business has offered universal testing to all employees at both locations.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim told Hawaii News Now on Monday that no customers have tested positive and that he does not believe there is cause for concern to the public.

Health Department Director Bruce Anderson echoed those comments in a news conference Tuesday.

“At this time we don’t believe any of the customers were impacted. We can’t say for sure, of course, that no one was but we haven’t received any reports of anyone ill as a result of patronizing that facility,” he said.

“Further I would add, they had all the safeguards in place. They had the shields. They were careful about how they were handing out ordered food.”

Kim said the first positive test linked to the McDonald’s came in last week from a worker.

That worker’s family members and other employees were tested and the additional series of positives came back over the weekend. All of those who tested positive are being quarantined at home.

Additionally, the state confirms two paramedics and two firefighters were exposed helping a patient who called 911 but didn’t tell them right away that family members in the cluster had tested positive.

All four of those first responders are currently in isolation.

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