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HCCC COVID-19 Outbreak Drops to 5 Active Inmate Cases

By Tiffany DeMasters
July 15, 2021, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated July 15, 6:21 AM
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The COVID-19 outbreak within Hawaii Community Correctional Center continues to wind down with authorities reporting three more inmates recovering from the virus.

As of Wednesday, July 14, the Public Safety Department confirms five active cases among HCCC inmates. There was also one staff recovery, which means there are no more active staff cases at the jail.

A spike of COVID cases within the jail was first reported at the end of May, forcing the jail to halt inmate transports to court hearings as well as suspend movement within the facility in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. At the height of the outbreak, PSD spokesperson Toni Schwartz told Big Island Now 226 inmates tested positive for the virus as well as 21 staff.

Two HCCC employees were hospitalized.

“The Department of Health and PSD Health Care staff will continue to monitor inmates and will lift the quarantine and movement suspension when they are confident that the outbreak has been contained and there is no further spread inside the facility,” Schwartz said.

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PSD officials say the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be offered to inmates in jail and prison facilities statewide. A point-in-time study conducted by PSD’s Health Care Division showed that as of June 21, 2021, 54% of inmates were fully vaccinated statewide. However, HCCC had the lowest number of fully vaccinated inmates compared to all prisons and jails across Hawaii with a rate of 23%.

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Schwartz said this data is a snapshot of one day.

“The inmate population is transient and changes by the hour as courts order intakes and releases throughout the day,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said the vaccine was offered to all PSD employees through community distribution clinics and mobile points of distribution (PODs). Staff are not required to report their private medical information, including if they have been vaccinated.

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The Department of Public Safety (PSD) continues to encourage all staff and inmates to voluntarily get tested and receive the COVID vaccination. For PSD’s Pandemic Plan and more information on PSD’s planning and response to COVID-19, inmate testing data, and information detailing the efforts made to safeguard the inmates, staff and public, click here.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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