Inmates who get COVID-19 will no longer be added to Oahu’s daily case count

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 8:48 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2020 at 8:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Inmates on Oahu who get COVID-19 will no longer be included in daily case counts as part of a bid to prevent the island for “snapping back” to Tier 1.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell says excluding the inmate population would keep the city from instituting tougher restrictions under its tiered reopening plan.

On Monday, Oahu saw 104 new cases, which pushed the seven-day average on the island to 105 with a 3.6% positivity rate. Of the new cases, 55 were Halawa Community Correctional Center inmates.

The mayor previously said it was important to include inmates in case count totals because they would impact the same Oahu hospitals that the general population uses.

But he changed course on that point last week, saying inmates are a unique population given their isolation. He said correctional center staff would still be included in daily counts.

“In terms of number of prisoners being brought to hospitals by EMS emergency services folks through our ambulances, the numbers have been very low,” the mayor said, at a news conference.

It is unclear exactly how many hospital beds are taken by inmates because the data from several agencies and health institutions doesn’t identify inmates individually.

At a separate news conference Monday, the governor said he agreed with the mayor’s conclusion.

Oahu has seen new COVID-19 infections ticking up in recent days, in part because of the continuing outbreak at the Halawa facility. The island is currently in Tier 2.

Meanwhile on Monday, the mayor renewed his plea for residents to avoid gatherings over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

“We really, really need to hunker down,” Caldwell said, speaking at the news conference.

“There’s a vaccine on the horizon. Let’s just ... dig deep and stay disciplined.”

This story will be updated.

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