Hawai‘i Health Department Addresses Discrepancy in Hilo COVID-19 Deaths

The state Department of Health reports that it is aware of six additional deaths associated with COVID-19 at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home in Hilo; however, it is awaiting medical records from the facility as part of its official confirmation and documentation process.

To date, the state has confirmed three COVID-19 deaths in Hawai‘i County.  Meantime, the Hilo Medical Center is reporting a total of 10 deaths, all at the Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home.

Testing was scheduled to take place on staff and residents of the facility on Wednesday.  Hawaii News Now reports that out of 74 residents, 63 have now tested positive. Two additional employees also tested positive, bringing the total to 22.

Three days ago, US Senator Brian Schatz called for immediate federal intervention into the outbreak at the Hilo facility.

“We need to contain this outbreak immediately, and we need federal help,” said Sen. Schatz. “I’m calling on the VA to immediately step in and deploy infection control experts and other health care professionals to the Big Island to get this under control. This is a public health emergency, and we need all the help we can get to stop this outbreak and save lives.”

The Yukio Okutsu Veterans Home is located at 1180 Waianuenue Avenue and is managed by Avalon Care Center.

In addition to testing at the veterans’s home, testing is also taking place at other care homes on Hawai‘i Island.  S&G Labs has also completed testing of all staff and residents at the Life Care Center of Hilo and Hale Anuenue Restorative Care Center.  All of those test results came back negative.  Retesting is now being scheduled in both facilities as part of a comprehensive testing plan.

There were 100 new COVID-19 cases in Hawai‘i on Wednesday including 88 on O‘ahu and 12 on Hawai‘i Island.  There were no cases reported on Maui on Wednesday.

Meantime, Hawai‘i’s COVID-19 death toll rose to 91 with the passing of three more O‘ahu residents reported on Wednesday. All three were men who had underlying medical conditions. Two were in the 60 to 69-year-old age group and the third was in the 70 to 79-year-old age group.

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