Couple in COVID-19 isolation on Kauai developed flu-like symptoms while on Maui

  • GOV. DAVID IGE

A mainland couple in isolation on Kauai after learning they had contracted COVID-19 visited urgent care facilitieson Maui and Kauai with flu-like symptoms before testing positive for COVID-19 at Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Kauai.

Their positive tests brings the number of known COVID-19 positive individuals in Hawaii to four, authorities said.

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In a news conference today, Gov. David Ige said the couple, a man and a woman, arrived on Maui March 2 on a United Airlines direct flight from the mainland. He said they stayed in a Lahaina hotel from Mar. 2-8.

Ige said one of the individuals “developed a fever, cough and shortness of breath,” was seen at an urgent care facility and tested negative for the flu.

The other individual got ill and was seen March 7 at an urgent care facility.

Both then flew on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 149 to Kauai on March 8. The first case was seen again Monday at an urgent care facility on that island, then visited Wilcox Memorial Hospital on Friday. It was there the couple “informed the health care professionals that they had a close contact with an individual that was COVID-19 positive,” Ige said.

“They were confirmed as positive for COVID-19 (Friday) night,” Ige said. He said the press conference wasn’t held until late this morning because of the lateness of the hour officials learned of the positive test results.

He said officials are in the process of tracking the couple’s movements and contacting those believed to have been in contact with them.

Ige said the state also is aware of three health-care workers treating the couple “who were not wearing appropriate devices.”

He said the workers have been contacted “and will be in … self-isolation as we proceed.”

According to Ige, the couple wasn’t aware they had been in contact with the COVID-19 positive individual until they had been contacted by phone prior to visiting Wilcox.

Ige and State Health Director Bruce Anderson disputed a statement by a reporter at the conference who cited “a source” stating the couple had been denied a COVID-19 test by the Maui urgent care facility.

“The physicians at the urgent care centers were unaware that they had been in contact with a confirmed case,” Anderson said. “Had they been aware of that, I’m almost certain they would have ordered a test to be done.

“That stresses the importance of anyone who had contact with a confirmed case to be notified. And they, in turn, should notify their health-care provider if they develop symptoms. In this case, that didn’t happen, and so they went to Wilcox. And at Wilcox, they (said), ‘Oh, by the way, we got a call that reported we were in contact with a confirmed case.

“So that’s, of course, when the Wilcox physicians determined that it was critically important to get those two tested. And they were tested quickly, and of course, they’re in isolation now.”

In addition, Ige reported all 62 samples in a community testing batch called “sentinel testing,” which included samples from all counties, tested negative for COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We did not find any evidence in any sample of COVID-19 in any community,” he said. “… So we continue to believe that the sentinel testing program allows us to get a sense of community spread. It is not proof positive, explicitly, because it’s only 62 samples. We will be expanding that until we arrive at about 200 samples a week that we will be testing from … all across the state.”

“We are committed to having testing on each island,” Ige said. “Obviously, our state lab is the only lab that can turn around a test in a single day. The others would incur a delay in getting results back.”

There continue to be no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Hawaii Island, but cancellations, closures and postponements continue to be announced because of concerns about the possible spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus.

The Maunakea Visitor Information Center announced it is closed until further notice.

And the Hawaii State Public Library System is implementing a few changes to library services starting Monday, effective through the remainder of March:

· All programs and events will be cancelled at all 51 locations.

· All external meetings scheduled in Library meeting rooms will be cancelled or rescheduled.

· Bookmobile Services will be suspended.

· To reduce exposure, libraries are following best sanitation practices for workplaces, as well as pulling toys and other difficult-to-sanitize items from public areas.

· Patrons will have two automatic renewals on library items that are eligible for renewal. Please visit our website for more information.

· Donations from the public will not be accepted at any location.

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For more information, visit librarieshawaii.org.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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