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No Inmates at Waiawa Correctional Facility Test Positive for COVID

September 19, 2020, 10:56 AM HST
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All 229 inmates tested for COVID-19 at the Waiawa Correctional Facility (WCF) on O‘ahu came back negative.

The Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety (PSD) Health Care Division is working with the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) to conduct mass testing for COVID-19 at all correctional facilities statewide. This is the first time testing for the virus at all jails and prisons on all the islands will occur.

Of the 98 WCF staff results received, 97 were negative and one was ordered re-tested by the DOH.

Maria Cook, Deputy Director for Administration/Acting Director was pleased with the results at Waiawa.

“This is great news! I want to acknowledge how hard the Waiawa warden and his staff have worked over the past several months to implement and follow through with their pandemic protocols,” Cook said. “It obviously worked to prevent the spread of the virus to this facility.”

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O‘ahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) was the first facility to have mass testing conducted after a coronavirus outbreak was detected in early August. Toni Schwartz, spokeswoman for PSD, said the department continues to follow national standards and guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) which states that mass testing of correctional institutions is not required. Testing is recommended only when someone is exhibiting symptoms of an upper respiratory illness or has been in direct contact with someone who has tested positive.

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“We are doing the broad-based testing of all facilities out of an abundance of caution and because it’s the right thing to do in order to keep employees and inmates safe,” Schwartz said.

The mass testing plan for the facilities has been in the works for the past month, to get all the logistics squared away and the necessary resources in place. With the help of the Hawai‘i Department of Defense/Hawai‘i Army National Guard, Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency, DOH and the Governor’s office, PSD was able to accomplish their goal and are now pushing forward with the large-scale testing program for all facilities.

The order of the facilities next in line for testing is still being worked out. PSD is also working with DOH and the Hawaii National Guard to coordinate the testing of correctional officers and staff.

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Additionally, the outbreak at OCCC is contained. There are currently no inmates hospitalized. There were three positive staff test results received. Staff recoveries increased to 70 and active cases dropped to 37.

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