A veterans home in Hilo that was the site of a deadly COVID-19 outbreak last year will be able to make key improvements to “keep its residents healthy and safe” thanks to $600,000 in new federal funding, Sen. Brian Schatz announced Friday.
The Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home, the only state veterans home in Hawaii, will get $428,000 from the American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March, and more than $173,000 under the COVID-19 relief package approved last year.
“Last fall, Yukio Okutsu was understaffed and ill-equipped to stop a deadly COVID outbreak,” Schatz said in a press release. “This new federal funding will help the home upgrade its facilities and ensure its workers remain on the payroll so that it can keep its residents healthy and safe.”
The 95-bed facility saw more than 100 residents and employees test positive for COVID-19, with 27 dying, during the outbreak that started Aug. 28.
The bulk of the federal aid will come from grants to support veterans living in long-term care facilities in each state as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.
Kevin Knodell covers the military and veterans in Hawaii and the greater Pacific for Civil Beat as a corps member for Report For America, a national nonprofit that places journalists in local newsrooms.