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Official: Hawaii care homes have lowest national virus rate

HILO (AP) — Hawaii’s coronavirus infection rate in long-term care facilities is the lowest in the nation because of statewide efforts to contain its spread, officials said.

Healthcare Association of Hawaii President and CEO Hilton Raethel says the infection statistic is based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Saturday.

Hawaii’s long-term care facilities have been protected from COVID-19 because communities throughout the state have kept case numbers low, Raethel said.

Bruce Anderson, director of the state Department of Health, said there has been only one patient in the state’s long-term care facilities with a confirmed case of the coronavirus, which was at a care home on Maui.

Three employees at long-term facilities have tested positive for the virus, and the health department is investigating a potential fourth case at “one of the largest care homes in the state,” Anderson said.

State and care providers are taking additional precautions to ensure long-term care facilities remain secure as the state reopens, Anderson said.

Anderson said 23 facilities received $30,000 from the state to install video equipment to improve communication between residents in closed homes and people outside.

An additional $30,000 is expected to be disbursed to other facilities next month.

A health department team is conducting assessments of all skilled nursing facilities in the state to assess COVID-19 management plans, while the department has advised facilities to maintain multiple daily tests of employees and residents, Anderson said.

Providers are required by law to report any suspected or confirmed case, which triggers an investigation of the facility, Anderson said.