Five new COVID-19 cases have emerged in Wahiawa at two small elderly care homes.

Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said Friday there are two buildings on the same property where elderly care was provided.

“We’re investigating the situation,” he said. “There are others who are going to be close contacts in that situation.”

Officials initially said the care homes were located in Waianae, but a DOH spokesperson clarified Friday evening that the care homes are located in Wahiawa.

Walkers and wheel chairs at Hokulaki Senior Living LLC. care home elderly. 14 aug 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Foster Family Care Homes are smaller elderly care home operations in residential settings. Not all have implemented no-visitor policies, which are mandated for larger care facilities. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Collectively, about 12 people including caretakers, patients and possibly household members will be tested, according to DOH Spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

John McDermott, the state long term care ombudsman, said foster homes typically care for three residents per home. He had expressed concern back in April that smaller operations such as these could miss out on guidance or not have the resources to acquire enough personal protective equipment.  

Community Care Foster Family Homes are smaller operations where care is provided to kupuna in a residential setting. Certification and licensing is conducted by Community Ties of America, which is contracted by the state Office of Health Care Assurance. 

Community Ties of America case managers are responsible for providing COVID-19 guidance to care home operators, according to McDermott. The smaller operations are not subject to federal rules restricting visitors at larger nursing homes, he said. 

“Some of them have been allowing families to visit,” he said. “There’s lots of people that you could expect who are bringing it in. Is it staff? Families visiting? Did any of those residents have doctor’s visits, or go out for dialysis or dental appointments? Everyone needs to be following all protocols.”

More Clusters On Oahu

Other COVID-19 case clusters have grown in recent days.

On Friday, DOH revealed more details about a string of cases in Waipahu that appears to have been propelled by a “faith-based home gathering.” About 30 possible contacts have been found via contact tracing, Anderson said.

So far, 12 household members have tested positive and six other cases may be related after the home-hosted faith-based meetings.

“The pastor in the situation was a case and did meet with constituents and probably family and others regularly in this setting,” Anderson said. “It’s an example of a situation where you have lots of people gathering, in this case, quite regularly, in a close environment where covid can easily spread.”

The department continues to monitor Hale Nani Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Makiki, where 12 people have been associated with an outbreak of infections there.

Friday brought the largest daily increase in verified COVID-19 cases in Hawaii since early April. DOH officials maintained they had sufficient testing and investigation capacity, and noted the hospitals have enough space too.

“If we saw 100 cases (daily) or more, we’d be concerned,” Anderson said. “But as we’re now looking at a level of cases that we saw early in the course of this outbreak, we’re able to manage that, and we’re in a much better position to handle these cases than we were when it first occurred.”

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