Mass testing underway after COVID-19 outbreak at Iwilei homeless shelter
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mass testing is underway after a COVID-19 outbreak at an Iwilei homeless shelter, officials confirmed to Hawaii News Now.
Connie Mitchell, head of the Institute for Human Service, said 10 residents at the men’s facility on Sumner Street have tested positive for the virus since last Wednesday.
“We were anticipating an outbreak eventually, given wide community spread,” Mitchell said.
“We’re just so thankful for community partners that are stepping up with support to contain and manage the situation at our Sumner Men’s Shelter.”
Mitchell confirmed all of the positive patients have been taken to the state’s Temporary Quarantine and Isolation Center.
However, some of them have refused to stay.
Hawaii News Now confirmed at least two COVID-19 patients walked out of the quarantine center over the past two days. Police sources say one of the men came back on his own.
The other was arrested nearly 24 hours later. He was hanging out outside the IHS men’s shelter. Sources say he was not wearing a mask.
HNN cameras captured video of Honolulu police outside the quarantine facility in Iwilei on Monday afternoon after officers arrested Adam Rapozo.
The 56-year-old was arrested a few blocks away for violating the city's emergency rules.
Police sources say state Health Director Bruce Anderson signed a rarely used order forcing Rapozo to isolate until his quarantine is complete.
Despite round-the-clock security provided by a private company, it’s the second time a patient has walked out of the facility that’s managed by the state Department of Health.
DOH officials refused to comment on the situation, citing medical privacy.
However, the city admits it’s a problem that officials are urgently trying to address.
“Some of this is very new to us and we’re having to iterate along the way,” said Marc Alexander, head of the mayor’s Office of Housing.
“So if we need additional security to take care of a different kind of clientele we’ll make the appropriate adjustments.”
He said overall, the program has been a success by providing homeless patients a safe place to isolate while they wait for test results or recover.
With a total of 19 people currently housed at the center, however, space is running out.
“We’re already looking for an additional facility right now,” said Alexander.
“We’re in the process of finalizing some negotiations to have additional capacity so we can meet the need of this vulnerable population.”
Meanwhile, HPD says it’s working with the state Attorney General’s Office to arrange for an officer or a representative to be posted at the facility until Rapozo’s quarantine is over.
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