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1 Positive Test Yielded from KCH Testing Last Week

July 20, 2020, 6:05 PM HST
* Updated July 20, 7:20 PM
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Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist. DOH photo.

A traveling health worker, who recently recovered from COVID-19, returned the sole positive test out of the 548 employees tested for the virus at Kona Community Hospital last week.

KCH Spokesperson Judy Donovan said the traveling worker came down with coronavirus while on the mainland in June. The worker, she added, only had the virus for about a week. While this worker had a positive test, Donovan added, the individual displayed no symptoms and was neither contagious or infectious. The individual has since been cleared by Hawai‘i Department of Health to continue working.

“We already know people who’ve been infected can be shedding viral material for up to three months,” said State Epidemiologist Sarah Park during a press conference Monday.

The case, Park added, continues to be investigated.

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization in March. Since then, the DOH has reported nearly 1,400 cases statewide and 24 deaths.

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On July 16, all KCH employees were tested after three staff members were diagnosed with COVID-19. Additionally — with the assistance of Premier Medical Group Hawai‘i — hospital families, visitors, and community members concerned about potential COVID exposure were tested on July 18.

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About 108 people were tested at the drive-through clinic and all returned negative results. Testing will continue through at least Friday, July 24, said Interim Chief Nurse Stephanie Irwin.

“We’re very happy with the initial testing results. But, to account for an incubation period, we have more testing to do to assure staff and the community that the hospital is COVID-free,” Irwin explained.

KCH and the Premier Medical Group plan to conduct three additional on-site testing clinics on the following dates:

  • Day 4 – July 20: Retested all staff providing direct patient care as they are considered high-risk. Results outstanding.
  • Day 8 – July 24: All KCH personnel, affiliated staff, providers, and contractors are tested again.
  • Day 14 – July 30: Depends on what the Day 8 results show.
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Donovan said the hospital continues to take extra measures to ensure the safety of inpatients and employees. When an employee travels outside of the state, Donovan explained, they cannot come back to work unless they have a negative test. Additionally, they are required to abide by the state’s 14-day quarantine with the exception of coming to work.

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