The Iwilei homeless shelter for men operated by the Institute for Human Service on Sumner Street is now functioning as a COVID-19 isolation and quarantine site after at least 20 residents tested positive for the virus this month.

The shelter, which houses up to 112 adult men, is not accepting any new admissions as current residents isolate or quarantine themselves for 14 days.

Previously, shelter residents who tested positive for the virus had been taken to the state’s Temporary Quarantine and Isolation Center.

But, according to Hawaii News Now, at least two of those patients refused to stay and walked out of the quarantine center, putting the public at risk.

IHS changed its policy on Thursday because the latest cluster of cases indicates that community spread is happening within the shelter, according to a press release. Keeping shelter residents in place is a measure intended to stop the virus from spreading outside the facility, IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell said in a prepared statement.

IHS is working with DOH on case investigation, outreach and testing to determine when the shelter may reopen and resume normal services.

The first Iwilei shelter resident tested positive on Aug. 5. Seven new cases were identified in the latest round of testing, bringing the total positive case count up to 20.

The seven new cases are included in Thursday’s statewide COVID-19 case count of 355, a new record high.

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