After a whirlwind Hawaii vacation, a CO woman returns home and tests positive for coronavirus

Updated: Mar. 15, 2020 at 10:23 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Colorado woman who visited Hawaii for more than two weeks in February has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lisa Merck, a 50-year-old nurse practitioner, visited Oahu, Maui and the Big Island between Feb. 3 and Feb. 18.

On her way back home, she said she started getting sick.

“I started having a tiny, tiny sniffly nose, then a few little sneezes, then muscle aches and pains,” she said.

“The next thing was extreme exhaustion. When I showered I was really felt out of breath and really tired. And then on March 1, 2, and 3rd, I got a fever.”

She said a flu test came back negative. But she kept getting sicker, eventually forcing her to go to an emergency room at a Colorado hospital on March 8.

Three days later, Colorado health officials told her she had the coronavirus.

“It was a shock, honestly, that I had it," she said.

“I was really surprised. I was really scared. I got really a nervous feeling.”

She said that during her trip to Hawaii, she and her husband Paul were healthy and active.

“We went running, we walked on the beach. We did lots of stuff. We rode around on bikes,” she said.

The couple flew here on United Airlines on Feb. 3 and stayed in Waikiki for three days. They then attended a medical symposium at the Turtle Bay Resort, where they stayed for five days.

The Mercks then flew on Hawaiian Airlines to Hilo on Feb. 13, then flew to Maui three days later, before heading home to Colorado on Feb. 18.

Merck said she recently spoke with a Colorado epidemiologist, who could not pinpoint where she was infected.

“She said maybe you got it in Colorado ... maybe from an airport, from a restaurant," she said.

If I had known I had had it, of course, I wouldn’t have traveled or been out in the community.”

Now in isolation in her home, Merck said she’s improving. She said she’s surprised that health officials from Hawaii have not reached out to her.

“Nobody has contacted me from the state of Hawaii but I’m happy to talk to anybody, I’m happy to explain anything," she said.

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