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1 Death, 164 New COVID-19 Cases; Schatz Calls For More Action To Curb Hilo Veterans Home Outbreak

Big Island Video News

Updated: 9/6/2020, 12:14 p.m.

Hawaii recorded 1 more COVID-19 death today and 164 new cases, the state Department of Health reported. The latest counts bring the state death toll to 85 and the total number of cases to 9,855. 

There have now been 8,911 cases on Oahu, 506 on Hawaii Island, 354 for Maui County, and 58 on Kauai. One case from Maui and one from Hawaii Island were removed from the counts and one case from Honolulu was recategorized to Kauai based on updated information. 

The latest daily numbers reflect an increase of about a dozen cases on Hawaii Island, where officials are increasingly concerned about outbreaks at a state veterans home and in Milolii.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz says he called on Gov. David Ige in May to step up efforts to prevent coronavirus infections at nursing homes and that his office is now working to get all federal help to address the deadly outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo.

Deaths at the veterans home had risen to five as of yesterday. All had significant underlying health issues.

"The outbreak we are seeking at Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home is heartbreaking. My staff and I are working with state and local officials to make sure they utilize all the federal help that's available," Schatz said in a statement. "The Department of Veterans Affairs is capable of doing even more, but we cannot be shy about asking them for help."

He said the state should ask the VA to share infection control specialists, provide more testing and share PPE to get the outbreak under control.

In Milolii, about a dozen people had tested positive as of last week. Lawmakers have called on Mayor Harry Kim to limit access to the South Kona fishing village and to hold mass testing of residents.

The surge in cases is stressing the capacity at hospitals statewide. A lack of sufficient numbers of health care personnel, especially nurses, remains a major concern.

State and city officials hope the stay-at-home order, in effect for Oahu until Sept. 9, will lower the number of new daily cases that have been running in the triple digits for most of August and now into September. 

Surge testing continues at various Oahu locations through the weekend. Participants can walk-up or register at doineedacovid19test.com. See the website for details on where and when the testing sites are scheduled.

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