HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Health experts are increasingly concerned about a growing cluster of COVID-19 cases linked to the state’s largest skilled nursing facility.
On Sunday, Hale Nani Nursing and Rehabilitation Center said two more residents and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The total number of people infected now sits at 15.
The facility’s administrators said the employee did not provide direct care. They were tested last week Tuesday and Wednesday.
In all, five residents who tested positive have been hospitalized. The other residents remain in a separate wing.
The facility says workers who were infected are isolating at home.
Another round of tests will be done this week, according to the facility’s administrators.
The first case linked to Hale Nani was a staff member, who tested positive on Friday.
Health care workers have been conducting universal testing at the facility in a bid to stem the outbreak. Dr. Scott Miscovich is charge of the mass testing and is working with the nursing home to expand its isolation ward.
“We have a red zone which is the place where all the infected individuals are,” he said. “Staff is in full PPE, full infection control. Full quarantine.”
There’s also an “orange zone” for residents who have been exposed but so far have tested negative for the virus. Miscovich says they’ll be re-tested every three days.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green says he’s monitoring the situation and local hospitals stand ready to help. “Having COVID in our nursing facilities, that is our greatest concern because the mortality rate for kupuna is so high,” he said.
Green confirmed just 12% of the state’s ventilators are in use and that about half of all ICU beds are empty. “We have incredible capacity,” he said. “We have more than enough PPE at our facilities. So that’s not the threat right now.”
Officials at Hale Nani declined to go on camera but said in a statement the they are encouraging residents to stay in their rooms and to wear face masks when they’re not.
Communal dining and activities have all been discontinued.
Hale Nani is also encouraging ohana to stay in touch with their loved ones via phone calls and video chats.
Miscovich said the nursing home is working with experts both here and on the mainland in an attempt to squash the outbreak. “I think the mood is very focused. Very determined,” he said.
“I know staff worked here until midnight last night and were back at 6 a.m.”
Up until Thursday, all of the positive cases had been isolated to a unit on the top floor of the facility. Miscovich says one staff member outside that unit has now tested positive.