COVID-19 Retest Associated With Death Comes Back Negative

March 25, 2020, 6:48 AM HST (Updated March 25, 2020, 6:48 AM)

The first reported COVID-19 fatality in the state was a misread, officials confirmed.

An O‘ahu adult who died on March 20, posthumously tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Monday. However, due to irregularities in the testing, the Hawai‘i Department of Health initiated a retest on Tuesday, which came back negative.


DOH Director Bruce Anderson said their focus was to get information out in a timely manner. This is an unprecedented situation and the department is still developing best practices.

“I accept all responsibility for not verifying reporting procedures,” Anderson said. “We’re immediately instituting measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again. My condolences to the family and friends of the person who passed away and our apologies for any undue anxiety this caused.”

Swabs from the person were submitted to the state laboratories two days after the person died. They’d originally been tested by a private clinical laboratory with inconclusive results.



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