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Health officials investigate COVID-19 cluster among cleaning service workers

The Maui News

The state Department of Health is investigating two COVID outbreaks connected to residential and commercial cleaning services, including one cluster of 20 cases in Maui County.

“All cases identified have been among cleaning service company employees and household members of employees; no cases have been identified among cleaning service clients,” the department said in its weekly cluster report on Thursday. “Co-workers carpooling together and employees working while they or their household members are sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are risk factors identified so far.”

The other cluster of three cases was reported in Honolulu County.

The DOH said that multiple cleaning service employees in the clusters were also family members who lived together.

While professional cleaning services play a major role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 exposure, “pro-curing and providing janitorial and other environmental services while also practicing physical distancing can pose challenges,” the report said.

“All parties must take precautions to protect cleaning industry workers, clients, employers and household members.”

The DOH recommends cleaning industry companies screen employees for symptoms of illness daily and send home anyone with symptoms. Employers should also provide all workers with adequate personal protective equipment, and workers should wear masks around people they don’t live with, wash their hands frequently and use EPA-approved disinfectants and cleaning chemicals, the DOH said. Anyone carpooling should wear masks for the entire trip and open car windows to improve ventilation.

Maui County has had two other active clusters under investigation within the past two weeks, including a cluster of 33 cases at a correctional facility and a cluster of three cases in the travel, lodging and tourism industry, the report said. Maui Community Correctional Center has been battling an outbreak and has had 31 positive cases so far — 26 active and five recovered as of Thursday, according to Public Safety Department data. Thirty-two people are in medical isolation and 18 are in quarantine, with an unspecified number of results pending.

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