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Two care home residents with COVID-19 have died

Facility is awaiting coroner’s determination if death due to virus

Roselani Place reported Tuesday that two of its residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died and that the facility’s case count now stands at 52, an increase of three cases from last week.

One female resident died at the hospital and the other female resident died at the assisted living facility, said Karl Drucks of Paradigm Senior Living, the management company for Roselani Place in Kahului.

One resident died Sept. 1 and the other Sept. 2, Drucks said in an email Tuesday afternoon.

In a weekly update to residents, families, staff, vendors and guests, Roselani Place said that it was awaiting the coroner’s determination if the deaths “were in fact caused by COVID.”

As of Monday, the facility’s case count rose to 52, up from 49. The three new cases were among residents, bringing the total to 24 positive cases. The case count remains at 28 for staff, and there have been no new positive cases in this group since a week ago.

Of the 52 cases, only 13 currently are active and all of them are residents, the update said. This week, three current residents tested positive for a second time. All three residents remain in isolation.

“Some uplifting news to note, in our battle against this horrible pandemic we had 39 people come off isolation; 28 staff and 11 residents,” the update said. “This bodes well and will definitely assist in our ability to continue providing quality care to our residents. All 11 residents released from isolation continue to remain in their apartments to help contain the spread.”

As cases continue to rise since the virus first was detected at the facility in mid-August, 92-year-old resident Thomas Umetsu said it’s “no problem.” He understood that the cases were among those who are bedridden and have more contact with staff.

“It’s real exciting,” Umetsu quipped about having to remain in his unit. “Twenty-four hours a day, we can’t even step out. But I got good company, the TV. I watch a lot of the Korean soap operas.”

Meals get delivered to his door. He also gets a COVID test every four days with his last one on Sunday. It was negative.

He described the test as the one that is “put in the nose.” Once, a staffer poked a swab maybe too deep into his nose, he said, but overall “no problems.”

“I tell you the staff has been working hard. I give them credit,” Umetsu said.

As for not having visitors, he said at times he does call his nieces for small things, which they are able to drop off for him.

With the negative test results among staff for the past 13 days, the Maui District Health Office and Dr. Lorrin Pang have directed the facility to test staff every three days beginning Thursday, Drucks said. Staff members were last tested Monday, with testing every two days since Aug. 23.

The first case at Roselani involved a resident who had returned from Maui Memorial Medical Center. Hospital and Roselani officials have said that the resident tested negative multiple times, including the day before discharge. However, the resident had come in contact with hospital workers who had the virus, and tested positive after returning to Roselani.

On Tuesday, the state Department of Health reported one new Oahu death linked to COVID-19, bringing Hawaii’s total to 100 since the start of the pandemic. The man in the 60-to-69-year-old age group had underlying health conditions and had been hospitalized.

Also, 66 new COVID-19 cases were reported statewide, bringing the total to 10,844.

The new cases included 59 on Oahu, five on Hawaii island and one case of a resident diagnosed out of state. There were no new cases in Maui County.

Overall cases include 9,782 on Oahu, 599 on Hawaii island, 378 in Maui County (including 15 on Molokai and none on Lanai) and 58 on Kauai. Twenty six residents have been diagnosed out of the state.

There have been 654 hospitalizations in the state and 100 fatalities linked to COVID-19, including 87 on Oahu, nine on Maui, three on Hawaii island and one Kauai resident who died on the Mainland.

In other news on the COVID-19 front, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami announced Tuesday the creation of a “resort bubble” program. Gov. David Ige signed the Kauai mayor’s Emergency Rule 16 authorizing the Enhanced Movement Quarantine program, which would permit visitors to leave their hotel rooms to utilize the resort’s amenities — including pools and restaurants — during their mandatory quarantine period.

This resort bubble concept is a voluntary program for both the resort to participate and the visitor to stay there.

“We understand the need to address the economic hardship facing our tourism-based community, while also preserving the safety of our residents,” said Kawakami. “The resort bubble program is an added tool to reopening our economy while we learn to coexist with this virus. It’s not a replacement or the final solution, and we will continue to keep our community updated as we make progress.” 

In order to participate, resorts must establish security and enforcement policies to protect the safety of both guests and employees of the resort. Security and enforcement are the responsibility of the resort, and all rules, such as mask wearing and physical distancing, must be followed. 

Visitors must agree to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet that will be tracked by the resort. If the monitoring unit is tampered with or the visitor leaves the resort property, hotel security will notify the Kauai Police Department for enforcement. 

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com. Lee Imada contributed to this report.

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