DOH Reevaluates Test Results of Fatal COVID-19 Case

March 24, 2020, 5:49 PM HST (Updated March 24, 2020, 5:49 PM)
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Health officials are reevaluating the test of an adult who tested positive posthumously for COVID-19.

Late Monday, the Hawai‘i Department of Health announced that the O‘ahu adult was the state’s first confirmed fatality in the novel coronavirus pandemic. The person passed away on March 20 and suffered from multiple underlying health conditions.

Prior to death, the person had been tested at a clinical commercial laboratory, and the results were indeterminate. Follow-up testing Monday, by the State Laboratories Division, confirmed COVID-19. On Tuesday, they ran the test again after finding an irregularity in the processing of the sample. The results should be out today.

With any COVID-19 related, DOH Director Bruce Anderson said they will rerun tests.

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State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said just because the individual’s case was initially inconclusive, it wouldn’t change the case management to stay home, wash hands, drink plenty of fluids.

Positive or presumptive cases of COVID-19 have jumped from 77 to 90 overnight — 10 are from residents, three are from non-residents and one result is still being investigated.

Anderson said 12 of the cases are on O‘ahu, one on the Big Island and one on Maui. So far, there have been only two pediatric cases and six individuals have been hospitalized.

“At this point in time we don’t have any evidence of community spread that is widespread transmission,” Anderson said.

Anderson said almost all the cases were travel-related or had been in contact with someone who had traveled, which includes the fatality.

The DOH supports the state’s order to stay-at-home and the 14-day quarantine for those flying to Hawai‘i.

“We do support 100% of what’s being done,” Anderson said. “I think we’re way ahead of most of the country in that regard, and we’re certainly in lock-step with other jurisdictions in preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

Anderson added that this is the time to act.

“It’s going to take each and every one of us to accomplish this, regardless of what the mandates are,” he said.

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