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Hawai‘i Set To Receive $4.5 Million To Support Local Nursing Homes, Protect People, Health Care Workers From COVID-19, Other Infectious Diseases

HONOLULU – Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has allocated $4.5 million in new federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to the Hawai‘i State Department of Health to support nursing homes and other long-term care facilities that may experience COVID-19 outbreaks and strengthen efforts to protect health care workers and fight infectious diseases, including COVID-19.

“Last year’s tragic outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home has shown us how quickly COVID-19 can spread, how devastating it can be for the elderly, and how important it is to be prepared,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This new funding gives us more resources to increase staffing when there are outbreaks in nursing homes, protect patients and health care workers, and save lives.”

The $4.5 million in funding includes nearly $2 million in funding to staff, train, and deploy strike teams to assist skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, and other long-term care facilities with known or suspected COVID-19 outbreaks. The remaining $2.6 million will help Hawai‘i DOH expand capacity in several areas to better fight infectious diseases, including to expand public health support to health care facilities, assist health care workers to prevent infections more effectively, support rapid response to detect and contain infectious disease threats, and expand efforts to design and implement effective infection prevention and control training and education to frontline health care staff, among other activities.

In September 2020, as a deadly COVID-19 outbreak at the Yukio Okutsu State Veterans Home in Hilo worsened, Senator Schatz called for immediate federal intervention to contain the spread and help save lives. As a result, the Department of Veterans Affairs mobilized a team to assess and support the veterans home and found a number of serious infection control issues that contributed to the deadly COVID-19 outbreak. Schatz’s actions also resulted in a change of management at the home.