Elderly O‘ahu Man Contracts Coronavirus, State’s Second Case

March 8, 2020, 5:34 PM HST (Updated March 12, 2020, 6:31 PM)
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Gov. David Ige. Courtesy photo.

An elderly resident of O‘ahu has come down with the state’s second confirmed case of COVID-19, or coronavirus, state officials said Sunday.

Gov. David Ige confirmed the elderly male patient had traveled to Washington, where he first presented symptoms of the virus on March 2.

The man returned to Hawai‘i on March 4, at which time he reportedly went immediately to an urgent care center. Why he wasn’t identified as a potential case of COVID-19 at the center was a question officials couldn’t answer Sunday, citing a lack of information.

The patient was taken by ambulance to a hospital on March 7 where a coronavirus test was administered. The test came back positive the morning of Sunday, March 8.

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The elderly patient is now quarantined at a hospital. DOH Director Bruce Anderson could not discuss the man’s current condition, as such medical information is private and privileged.

In the meantime, a DOH investigation into the patient’s case is ongoing.

“We will be working through his specific travels and contacts he may have had,” Ige said. “We will reach out to inform them that they had contact with someone who is presumptively positive for COVID-19.”

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, said the investigation is in its early stages. However, she said the state is confident the patient had “very few” direct contacts in Hawai‘i based on travel history.

DOH is working with health officials in Washington, Park continued, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking into the airline and flight the patient used to travel. Park said she expects that part of the investigation will involve people from several states.

Ige said he believes the man contracted the virus in the state of Washington. As of Sunday, 21 people in the United States have died of coronavirus, 17 of them in Washington State.

Anderson and Ige both reiterated that the state does not yet fear community spread.

“We have not yet had any cases of COVID-19 that have been clearly transmitted among residents here in Hawai‘i,” said Anderson, adding, however, that the virus has shown the potential to spread in such a context in several other states and areas of the world.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the case,” Anderson continued. “We are aggressively pursuing this.”

Officials said more information about the case and potential close contacts with the patient in question would be provided in the near future.

Max Dible
Max Dible is the News Director for both Big Island Now and Kauai Now. He also serves as News Director for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations. He formerly worked as a community reporter for West Hawai‘i Today in Kailua-Kona from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he was a sports editor, sports reporter, and radio talk show personality covering college athletics in Iowa. He's won several regional and national journalism awards, at both the collegiate and professional levels, for breaking news, long-form feature writing, and his work as a sports columnist.

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