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The Latest: 248 New Cases Today; IHS Worker Dies Of COVID-19

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Cory Lum/Civil Beat
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Updated: 8/23/2020, 12:07 p.m.

Where we stand

The Hawaii Department of Health reported 248 new COVID-19 cases today. That brings the state's total to 6,600 cases. Total deaths remain at 47. Of the new cases, 228 are on Oahu, 12 in Maui County, and 8 on Hawaii Island. The Hawaii Department of Health reported 1 death and 284 new COVID-19 cases yesterday. 

The Institute for Human Services issued a statement yesterday comfirming the death from COVID-19 of one of its workers.

"We are heartbroken by the loss of one of our own team members," Connie Mitchell, IHS executive director, said in a statement. She said team member Willie Talamoa was 36 years years old. 

"His young age reminds us all of our own vulnerability against this disease that does not discriminate," she said. She described Talamoa as always upbeat and positive and someone who worked tirelessly to encourage and inspire the homeless that IHS serves.

IHS recently converted its Sumner Street men's shelter into a temporary quarantine center after a cluster of about 20 cases developed at the location.

Mitchell said it is not clear how Talamoa may have contracted the virus. Any IHS clients or employees who have tested positive or may have been exposed to the virus remain in quarantine, she said.

As part of IHS protocols, staff are provided PPE when entering any spaces that may put them at risk for COVID-19. 

Among recently reported cases:

• All staff and residents at the state's largest skilled nursing facility will be retested this week after the latest outbreak of COVID-19 at the Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center grew Friday to 12 residents and 11 staff members. Three residents are hospitalized and nine are at another skilled nursing facility in its COVID unit, the facility said on its website. The numbers of workers affected may grow, with the facility noting that there has been a cluster of three or more staffers with new-onset respiratory symptoms in recent days. Hale Nani had another outbreak in June when 12 residents and six staff members tested positive. Two of the residents were positive when admitted and one staffer was found to have the virus in March. All told, the facility has had 24 residents and 18 staff members who have tested positive.

• A Hawaii State Federal Credit Union employee at the Kaimuki branch has tested positive for COVID-19, the financial services nonprofit said in a news release yesterday. The branch has been temporarily closed. The employee last worked at the branch on Aug. 18 and is self-isolating at home. All employees have been notified and those who may have had direct contact with the worker have been asked to quarantine at home. The worker did not have direct contact with credit union members. The brnach is being professionally cleanred and disinfected, the credit union said. 

OCCC inmates, staff testing positive inch up

The number of Oahu Community Correctional Center inmates testing positive edged up by 1 yesterday to a total of 242. The number of OCCC adult corrections officers testing positive remains at 43, the state Department of Public Safety said.

DPS said it has completed an initial round of mass testing and that the Department of Health plans to conduct follow-up testing of all OCCC inmates in the weeks to come. 

DPS also disclosed the names of 11 more inmates released Friday under the Hawaii Supreme Court's order to ease overcrowding at OCCC during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Kapiolani medical center receives $10.7M 

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children received $10.7 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz announced yesterday.

Kapiolani provides care to children and women regardless of ability to pay. Schatz said hospitals are seeing increasing admissions and need financial support to continue quality care.

Many children's hospitals have been impacted by the pandemic, suspending elective surgeries, having to puchase additional PPE, and serving as backup to other hospitals during patient surges. The result has been lost revenue and increased expenses, according to the senator's news release.

The new funding is part of the $175 billion Provider Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.

The Queen's Medical Center will also receive $300,000 to expand its telestroke network, part of its telehealth services. The network connects the medical center's neurology experts to emergency doctors in rural communities to quickly help patients who don't have access to specialists.

This is a developing story. Please check back for upates. Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest COVID-19 developments and the state's phased reopening. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.

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