HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a concerning development Friday, officials said that three employees at two long-term care facilities for seniors on Oahu have tested positive for COVID-19.
Two employees work at Kalakaua Gardens, an assisted living and skilled nursing facility. The third employee works at Maunalani Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii said both of the facilities are cooperating with the state Health Department and the three employees “did not directly care for residents.” Officials also added that the facilities were equipped with increased safety procedures, such as universal masking and social distancing.
Kalakaua Gardens said all of its employees and residents would be offered free COVID-19 tests.
“Our primary concern is the health and well-being of the seniors entrusted to our care and for our staff,” the facility said, in a news release.
“We are working with a private laboratory to begin collecting swabs, beginning with those who were working most closely with the two employees.”
Kalakaua Gardens also said its two employees are quarantined at home, and all residents of the facility are isolating in their units to minimize group interactions.
Additionally, only essential employees are reporting to work.
Hawaii reported six new and three older COVID-19 cases on Friday. The six new cases were all on Oahu, and the state health director told Hawaii News Now that four appeared to be linked.
But he did not say how they were connected and it wan’t immediately clear if the six new cases include the three senior living home employees.
Senior living facilities in Hawaii have taken a host of precautions, including not allowing visitors, in a bid to protect patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The elderly are at highest risk for severe complications from coronavirus. On the mainland, tens of thousands of residents and employees at senior care homes have died from COVID-19.
“COVID-19 continues to challenge health care facilities across the nation,” said Hilton Raethel, president and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.
“During the pandemic, Hawaii’s long term care facilities have been successful in keeping COVID-19 away from their residents."
He noted that skilled nursing and assisted living facilities in Hawaii care for more than 5,000 residents.
So far, only one Hawaii senior living facility resident has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and that patient was exposed at Maui Memorial Medical Center not the senior living facility.
This story will be updated.