Little is known about the second death of a Hawaii resident from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
In response to an information inquiry by the Tribune-Herald, the state’s COVID-19 Joint Information Center replied the Department of Health released only that the victim was an adult from Oahu who was hospitalized and died Wednesday night.
An email from Gov. David Ige’s office Thursday announced the death by a brief statement of condolence, which also was posted on his Facebook page.
“Today, our community received the tragic news of the passing of a second Hawaii resident from the COVID-19 virus. Dawn and I express our deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends,” Ige said. “As we come together with expressions of sympathy and support, we must also remember to help each other, to protect your health and the health of loved ones and your community. Let’s all do our part to get Hawaii through this challenging time.”
The first COVID-19 death in Hawaii was an elderly man who died Monday night in an Oahu hospital. State Health Director Bruce Anderson said Wednesday the man recently had traveled to Las Vegas.
As of noon Thursday, DOH reported 27 new cases of COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the statewide number of cases to 285.
Most of the new cases, 24, are in the City and County of Honolulu, bringing the Oahu total number of cases to 206.
Maui County reported one new case, and has the second-highest number of cases statewide, 27.
Hawaii County remained at 18 reported cases. Of those, six people recovered and 12 are still in isolation.
Kauai County also had no new cases, and remains at 12.
The locations of 20 of the cases statewide have not yet been released.
Fifteen of the cases statewide have required hospitalization.
Seventy-two individuals, including three of the newly reported cases, were released from isolation, DOH said.
Gov. Ige didn’t have a statewide media briefing Thursday, but during an episode of “Community Connection” streamed Thursday morning on Facebook Live, state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said a vast majority of cases are still travel-associated, and she thinks it will “still be a little time before we see that drop off as a result of (Ige’s) 14-day quarantine orders.”
“But we also still do see some evidence now of localized transmission, so I think it’s really important that everyone does their part in our community and practice good social distancing measures, as well as the usual hygiene measures we’ve always recommended,” Park said.
Ige said he thinks mandatory quarantine measures imposed on arrivals in Hawaii and for interisland travelers — as well as his stay-at-home orders throughout the state and social distancing measures — “will help get us through this pandemic.”
The governor said although it seems like the number of cases has taken an upward turn in recent days, he reminded viewers that early last month, only the state laboratory could run COVID-19 tests in-house, and samples collected by commercial laboratories had to be sent to the mainland, resulting in a lag in reported positive results.
Those private labs, however, now are able to test locally, he added.
Park, however, cautioned that the clinical commercial labs have limited capacity, so some samples will still have to be sent out of state for testing, and the Hawaii might continue to see a lag for some results.
Answering a question about when the state could reach the peak number of cases, Park replied that while prediction models are useful for planning purposes, they should be taken “with a grain of salt.”
Instead, how well everyone in the community practices social distancing will determine “where we see that peak actually happen and how high that peak will really be,” she said.
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