Hawaii DOH makes 11 recommendations for quarantine safety

Among recommendations in the investigation report by the State of Hawaii Dept of Health to ensure safety of American Samoa’s returning residents is that access to the quarantine site be limited to clinical and essential support staff only, that is nurses, support staff and security.

Another was that access at the quarantine site be limited to ASG staff members who are not residents of Hawaii and the attending physician only.

The Hawaii Dept of Health investigated the recent confirmed coronavirus cases during the quarantine of Repatriation Flight #5 at the Ohana East Waikiki Hotel.

The report noted several violations of quarantine rules put in place by AS Dept of Health and the Covid-19 Task Force, not by travelers but by staff of AS-DOH and ASG-Hawaii Office. The report said that in addition to travelers, AS-DoH and ASG-Hawaii staff have rooms at the quarantine site.

The report, signed by Hawaii DoH Acting State Epidemiologist Dr Sarah Kremble had 11 recommendations which were based on CDC guidelines for quarantine sites.

Dr. Kremble said the recommendations are guidelines to ensure all activities at the quarantine site are conducted to limit COVID-19 exposure and ensure the safety of all returning residents.

Other recommendations:

  • That all staff members working at the site be fully vaccinated.
  • Protocol for all staff members entering the quarantine site should include daily temperature and symptom checks and a sign in sheet, this ensures that if exposure occurs all close contacts can be easily identified and contacted.
  • AS-DoH testing  protocols should be in place for all clinical and non clinical staff members that work at the quarantine site for each new repatriation event.
  • Personal protective equipment worn during interaction with residents in quarantine should include masks, face shield, gowns and gloves.
  • Any person who is deemed to be a close contact of a case will be quarantined for 14 days,

It was also recommended that AS-DoH develop a testing protocol for their clinical staff at the quarantine site thst are determined to be a close contact…this should include testing and monitoring that is in line with current CDC  guidelines.

The four positive coronavirus cases identified on May 17 were all staff and the discovery led to the delay of Repatriation Flight #5 from May 28th to June 1st. All of the staff then had to be quarantined.

The report said that Hawaii DoH understands that the ASG- Hawaii Office and AS-DoH do not have additional nursing staff or essential support and that without their presence 216 returning residents would be left unattended and without resources.

Based on this, HI-DoH agreed to allow clinical staff and essential support staff whom they determined to be close contact of the confirmed cases to continue working at the quarantine site.

This means the attending physician, nurses and essential support staff thst deliver food and provide site security.

For those who are clinical and essential support staff at the quarantine site, after their shift is complete, Hawaii-DoH would advise them that they are still in quarantine and they are required to follow current quarantine guidelines.

All others were required to complete a 14-day quarantine at home.

The final recommendation was that quarantine for the returning residents be a full 14 days from the last date a positive case was on site, which was May 17 through to May 31, and release and flight departure date be on June 1.

This was to allow for additional testing.

That recommendation was followed and resulted in the June 1st departure and a 7-day quarantine at the Tradewinds Hotel for passengers of Flight #5, instead of release upon arrival as earlier announced.

Those travelers were released from Tradewinds Hotel yesterday.