Hawaii island records its first 2 coronavirus deaths amid outbreak at Hilo


Hawaii island has had its first two coronavirus-related deaths following an outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home.

The home reported the deaths of the patients, who had underlying health conditions, today, according to Elena Cabatu, director of public affairs for the Hilo Medical Center, which owns the building where Avalon Health Care operates the home.

Cabatu said one of the patients died Saturday and the other died Sunday. No more information on the deaths was immediately available, she said.

The latest fatalities raise the statewide coronavirus-related death toll to 65.

Hawaii island has seen a surge in cases over the last week and it’s total number of cases surpassed Maui County’s total for the first time today.

Health officials today reported 174 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday on Oahu, 22 on Hawaii island, and four in Maui County. The Big Island deaths were not included in the state Department of Health’s midday tally today.

Sunday’s total coronavirus cases by county since the start of the outbreak included 7,584 on Oahu, 340 in Hawaii County, 334 in Maui County, and 57 in Kauai County. The total statewide counts also include 24 Hawaii residents who were diagnosed out of state.

As of Sunday, Cabatu said, 27 Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home residents, including the two that died, and 10 employees had tested positive.

“It’s thought that the virus entered facility through a staff member. That’s the only way that it could have been brought into the nursing home facilities since its been on lockdown since March,” she said. “They took all the precautions.”

Cabatu said six patients are hospitalized, 19 are at the veteran’s home under COVID care, and two have died.

Cabatu said a June baseline testing of all staff came back without any positives. However, in August during random testing a staff member was identified as positive, and another staff member was identified as positive through private testing.

Cabatu said all staff and residents were tested Aug. 23-24 and rechecked Aug. 26-27.

“We finally have a majority of the test results in,” she said. “We’ll continue testing every three to four days until everyone is negative.”

The veterans home opened in November 2007 as the state’s first facility to provide nursing home and care to eligible veterans. It is named after World War II veteran Yukio Okutsu, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.





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