Mass testing of inmates and staff at the Waiawa Correctional Facility is almost complete and has found no new cases of COVID-19, and the infection cluster at the state’s largest jail is being brought under control, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

So far 229 inmate tests at the minimum security Waiawa prison were negative for the coronavirus, and 97 of 98 staff tested negative as well, according to the department. One test was inconclusive, and that staff member is being re-tested.

Two Waiawa staffers tested positive earlier this summer, but have since recovered, prison officials said Friday.

Waiawa Correctional Facility as inmates move around inside compound.
Waiawa Correctional Facility inmates inside a compound. Mass testing has found no COVID-19 cases among the inmates or staff. 

Acting Public Safety Director Maria Cook praised the efforts of the prison health care staff, the National Guard and the state Department of Health personnel who have been doing the testing.

She said in a written statement that Waiawa staff “have worked over the past several months to implement and follow through with their pandemic protocols. It obviously worked to prevent the spread of the virus to this facility.”

Small numbers of infections have been reported at the Halawa Correctional Facility and the Women’s Community Correctional Center on Oahu and at Kulani Correctional Facility on Hawaii island, but public safety officials said discussions are still ongoing on where they will mass test next.

At OCCC, which was the site of the largest cluster of COVID-19 infections in the state, officials have identified 19 inmates that now have the virus, while 288 who were previously infected have now recovered. Testing has revealed 31 jail staff members have the coronavirus, and 59 have recovered.

The department said all 29 inmate test results received Friday from OCCC were negative, and no inmates are hospitalized. Some staff have been hospitalized with COVID-19, but a spokeswoman for the department said there is no accurate count available of how many staff are currently hospitalized.

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