The broad-based COVID-19 testing at the neighbor island jails has begun, starting with Kaua‘i Community Correctional Center and its staff.
According to the Public Safety Department (PSD), all 53 staff tested negative for the virus.
PSD is working with the Department of Health to conduct mass testing for COVID-19 at all correctional facilities statewide. The mass testing will start with staff then testing will be provided to inmates. Maria Cook, PSD Deputy Director for Administration/Acting Director, said jail staff are being tested first so they can make sure they are cleared and ready to assist when it’s time to begin inmate testing in the neighbor island jail facilities.
The jail populations are different from the prisons, Cook explained, as many of the inmates are transient or pre-trial detainees.
“The overcrowded conditions combined with the constant intake and release in the jail system present a unique set of challenges and requires thorough staffing, operational and logistical planning between DOH, PSD and the jail facilities before inmate testing can begin,” she added.
The order of the facilities next in line for inmate testing is being worked out. The Halawa Correctional Facility (HCF) is also undergoing staff testing this week with the help of the Hawaii National Guard. All inmates were tested and all were negative for COVID.
“Many agencies are coming together to help us with our statewide staff testing. We couldn’t do this without the Hawai‘i National Guard, the DOH neighbor island district offices, and community partners such as Waimanalo Health Center and Project Vision Hawai‘i,” Cook said.
PSD and the DOH are continuing mass testing of OCCC inmates to mitigate virus spread in the incarcerated population. The one OCCC inmate test result received Monday was negative. There are currently no inmates hospitalized. The total number of inmates who have recovered increased to 307. There was one new positive OCCC staff test result reported Monday. Total PSD staff recoveries increased to 83.