News

COVID-19 Cluster Identified at Coffee Farm in Kona

February 2, 2021, 2:09 PM HST
* Updated February 2, 2:42 PM
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The Department of Health has identified a COVID-19 cluster at a coffee farm in Kona.

Out of about 100 employees, 18 workers were diagnosed with the coronavirus, Steve Bader, executive assistant from the Mayor’s Office, told Hawai‘i County Council’s Governmental Operations, Relations and Economic Development Committee this morning.

“This is being classified as travel-related,” Bader said, adding one of the employees traveled to the mainland.

Bader also informed the committee that the county, with the partnership of Premier Medical Group, reached 100% testing of all incoming transpacific travelers at Big Island airports.

Committee members questioned why the farmworker wasn’t caught during the post-COVID rapid test at the airport.

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Bader explained it isn’t uncommon for someone to test negative for the virus then get symptoms a few days after the test. Other counties, Bader said, are looking at testing transpacific travelers 72 hours after they land in an effort to catch these positive cases.

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The coffee farm employs individuals from Kona down to Ocean View as well as migrant workers. The county could see community spread of COVID if positive cases are identified in households of the farmworkers.

Bader said the county is committed to 100% transpacific testing at the airports through the end of the month. The continuation to do testing is a resource-driven decision, he explained.

Bader told the committee the administration is optimistic about receiving federal funding to keep testing going beyond January.

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“We’re all committed to keeping the numbers low,” Bader said.

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