COVID-19 in Hawaii: One year later

  • Passengers walk past an Alaska Airlines sign with information on providing COVID-19 test information before flying to Hawaii Monday at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The first case of COVID-19 in Hawaii was confirmed one year ago today, a little more than two months after a newly identified coronavirus was first detected in China.

An Oahu resident had traveled on the Grand Princess cruise ship in February 2020 and disembarked in Mexico before returning home.


According to reports at that time, the person became ill after returning to Hawaii, contacted their health care provider, and was tested for the coronavirus.

More than 10 passengers on a cruise aboard the Grand Princess that sailed from San Francisco to Mexico Feb. 11-21, 2020, tested positive for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization’s country office in China picked up on reports of a viral pneumonia in Wuhan on Dec. 31, 2019.

Despite efforts to contain the culprit — a newly identified coronavirus — the respiratory virus rapidly spread around the world.

Since January 2020, nearly 116 million cases have been reported worldwide, 28.8 million of which have been in the United States.

More than 520,000 deaths have so far been reported in the U.S.

The virus’ appearance in Hawaii shuttered nonessential businesses for months, triggered mask mandates, mandatory travel quarantines and other restrictions, upended the state’s tourism-dependent economy.

Hawaii, though, has fared better than most other states and U.S. territories during the pandemic.

As of Friday, 27,753 cases have been reported in Hawaii since the start of the pandemic, a majority of which —22,055 — were on Oahu.

Hawaii Island has had 2,256 COVID-19 cases, while 2,273 have been on Maui, 184 on Kauai, 108 on Lanai and 27 on Molokai, and 850 residents were diagnosed outside the state.

According to data from NPR, only Vermont, Guam, the Virgin Islands, Northern Marianas and American Samoa have had fewer cases than Hawaii.

Some 2.58 million COVID-related deaths have been reported globally, 522,000 of which were in the U.S.


As of Friday, 443 COVID-related deaths have been reported in Hawaii by the state Department of Health.

Email Stephanie Salmons at

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