Hawaii’s first coronavirus-related death was older Oahu resident with multiple health issues

Updated: Apr. 1, 2020 at 6:50 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Following the state’s first coronavirus-related death in Hawaii, government and public health officials pleaded with residents Tuesday to take stay-at-home orders seriously.

“I cannot stress enough ... stay at home and self-isolate,” said Gov. David Ige, at a news conference Tuesday. “You need to remain vigilant. We cannot afford to let our guards down."

Authorities said the person who died was a senior citizen who lived on Oahu and had multiple medical issues. The patient was recently hospitalized for an unrelated health reason but subsequently tested positive for the virus.

“I would like to express my deepest heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the victim,” Ige said.

The Health Department incorrectly identified the victim as a man, but has since corrected the information. The patient’s family said she was an 82-year-old woman who fell ill after returning from a trip to Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, after 20 new cases were reported Tuesday, the total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hawaii stands at 224. And at least 13 people have required hospitalization.

Here’s the county-by-county breakdown:

  • Oahu: 157 (18 new)
  • Maui: 25 (0 new)
  • Big Island: 15 (0 new)
  • Kauai: 12 (0 new)
  • Pending: 13 (2 new)
  • Diagnosed out of state: 2 (0 new)

Hawaii’s case count has more than doubled in four days and has nearly tripled since March 23. The first Hawaii case of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, was reported March 6.

News of Hawaii’s first coronavirus-related death comes as the state plans to expand a mandatory, 14-day quarantine order to include inter-island travelers.

The state also remains under a sweeping stay-at-home order aimed at stopping all but essential activities.

Officials said the inter-island quarantine will not apply to essential workers or those carrying out an essential function, such as seeking healthcare. Those traveling between islands are asked to wear face masks.

Lt. Josh Green, who is also a practicing physician, said the time to follow social distancing guidelines and remain at home is now as much as possible.

“This is a war against the virus,” Green said.

For several days, state Health Director Bruce Anderson has said the islands are seeing “localized” community transmission of coronavirus, and on Tuesday announced the first positive test from Hawaii’s sentinel surveillance testing. The program randomly tests samples from people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

The Health Department has issued new maps aimed at showing the spread of coronavirus in Hawaii.
The Health Department has issued new maps aimed at showing the spread of coronavirus in Hawaii.(DOH)

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Meanwhile, at least 58 people in the islands have been “released from isolation" after falling ill. That means it’s been three days since they’ve exhibited symptoms or seven since they first got sick, whichever is longest.

And there have been more than 9,000 coronavirus tests conducted statewide.

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