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Another Big Island Veteran Dies Due to COVID-19

August 31, 2020, 2:01 PM HST
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Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home. Website photo.

Health officials report another COVID-19-related death at Hilo Medical Center, bringing Hawai‘i County’s death toll to three.

As of Monday, HMC had 16 patients hospitalized for the coronavirus — two in the ICU and 14 in the COVID-19 unit of the hospital. The deaths stem from a cluster identified at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home about a week ago.

Overall, three veterans, with underlying health issues, have died due to COVID-19.

“We offer our sincerest condolences to the family and loved ones of these veterans who served our country,” HMC officials state.

As of today, 28 residents and 10 employees tested positive for the coronavirus. There are currently three VA Home residents hospitalized at HMC, two were released from the hospital and returned to the veterans home for additional care. Twenty-three total residents are currently cared for at the veterans home COVID designated area.

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According to officials at the VA home, the virus entered the facility through a staff member who was exposed in the community.

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“We do currently have a cluster of three or more residents and/or staff with new-onset respiratory symptoms in the last 72 hours,” VA home officials stated in a release today.

All residents and staff were tested for COVID-19 on Aug. 23-24. They were re-tested Aug. 26-27. A third round of testing for all residents and staff will take place early next week.

The positive staff members are self-isolating at home and will not return to work until medically cleared to do so.

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Additionally, staff has followed up with testing at HMC’s Behavioral Health Unit after a staff member tested positive for the virus last week.

As of today, all patients and staff on the Behavioral Health Unit who were tested are negative. The hospital will do one more round of surveillance testing and are assessing restarting admissions to the unit after results are received.

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