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Honolulu won’t count prisoners’ infections in reopening data

HONOLULU (AP) — Honolulu officials will no longer count COVID-19 cases among prisoners at Halawa Correctional Facility in metrics used to decide whether to tighten or loosen pandemic restrictions on Oahu.

The city will still include infections among prison guards and staff, Hawaii Public Radio reported Tuesday.

Honolulu consults weekly averages of confirmed positive cases on the island to determine whether it’s safe to allow more businesses to reopen or whether it should force more to close.

The state Department of Health on Monday reported 104 new cases on Oahu. Of these, 55 were connected to Halawa prison.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said the outbreak at the prison is inflating the island’s numbers and that residents and businesses shouldn’t be punished for that. He said the city wants to avoid going back to its most restrictive rules.

Subtracting infections among Halawa inmates from Oahu’s numbers would give the island a seven-day average of 82.6 cases, he said. That would put the island below the threshold that requires the city to adopt the most restrictive “Tier One” rules.

“We’re going to put health and safety first, but we do not want to have a snap back to Tier One,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell proposed the changes to Gov. David Ige and other mayors during their regular meeting. Ige said Monday that he agreed to the plan.