2 Visitors Who Flew From Mainland To Maui Then Kauai Test Positive; 1st Maui, 3rd Oahu Case Reported

Mar 14, 2020

Updated: 3/14/20, 9:17 p.m.

Gov. David Ige says a Mainland couple who came into close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient flew directly into Maui on March 2 on a United flight and then to Kauaʻi on March 8 before testing positive for the virus. Meanwhile, city officials said they have been notified of another case on Oahu, and Maui officials have been told tonight that a female visitor who was under investigation has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

City spokesman Alexander Zannes said Saturday night that officials were informed that test results for one person under investigation on Oahu came back positive for COVID-19. This would be Oahu's third case.

The Maui visitor is in isolation and continues to be monitored by the state Department of Health, said Christopher Sugidono, a county spokesman.

Gov. David Ige will be holding a press conference on this case, Maui's first, and the new Oahu case tomorrow at 1 p.m. The latest cases would bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Hawaii to six.

On Saturday, the governor gave details on the Kauai cases at a press conference at the state health department.

The couple arrived from a state on the Mainalnd -- later identified as Indiana -- flew directly to Maui and stayed in a Lahaina hotel. They did not disclose that they had been in contact with a coronavirus-positive patient when one on March 4 and then the other on March 7 went to urgent care on Maui after coming down with symptoms. In the first case, the visitor was given a rapid flu test that came back negative.

They then flew on March 8 from Kahului to Lihue on Hawaiian Airlines flight 149, staying in the Kauaʻi Marriott Resort. On March 9, the first patient went to an urgent care clinic and was given anti-biotics.

The same patient then went to Wilcox Medical Center on March 12 where health care workers were told that the couple had contact with someone testing positive with the coronavirus. The two visitors were then screened for COVID-19, with news of the positive results released to the public by Kauai County on its Facebook page Friday night.

Both have improved so they don't need hospitalization, Ige said. The two adult visitors, one male and one female, are in an isolation facility away from the general public, the Kauai County said on Facebook. They are being monitored by the health department.

Three healthcare workers, two on Maui and one on Kauai, have been kept from off the job because they were possibly exposed by the visitors, officials said. Ige said three workers were not wearing appropriate personal protective gear and are now in self-isolation.

Ige said the state is contacting places where the couple visited so they can inform anyone who may have been in contact with them that they may have been exposed.  

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said the couple may have traveled to as many as three states before coming to Hawaii. She said none of the states is Washington, as far as she knows. That state is one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreaks in the United States.

Health officials are interviewing the couple and working with the other states to confirm points of close contact, Park said.

Dr. Janet Berreman, state district health officer for Kauai, said on Kauai County's Facebook page that she knows the island's residents are wondering if they came into contact with the visiting couple.

"We are tracing all of the places that they went. Because they weren’t feeling well, they were not out and about as most visitors are. But most of the contact that they’ve had out in the community was casual contact," she said.

"Passing people in the store, doing a transaction with a cashier, ordering a meal, and those kinds of short contact are considered casual and do not pose a risk to our community."

But she said some people may have had closer contact, meaning face-to-face for 10 minutes or more and separated by less than three feet. Anyone who may have been that close to the visitors, may be at some risk, Berreman said.

"If you think that you are in that category, you should pay attention to your health over the next couple of weeks, a little bit more attention than you might usually. And if you’re not feeling well, you should contact your health care provider," she advised.

Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said in a statement this afternoon that the county is working with state health officials in investigating the cases and tracing the visitors' steps on the island.  

During his state of the county speech on Friday, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami said that two non-cruise ship visitors were at the time being investigated for possible coronavirus infection.

Kawakami has been frustrated by the county's lack of authority over cruise ships and whether they are allowed to dock in the island. This follows news that the Grand Princess cruise ship, which stopped at Nawiliwii Harbor as well as ports on Maui, Oahu and Hawaii Island from Feb. 26-29, were found to be carrying at least 21 passengers testing positive for COVID-19 after it left the state.

The Department of Health said once it received the test results on the Kauai cases Friday night, it immediately notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"DOH is working with the CDC to develop next-step response and mitigation initiatives. DOH will follow up with those who have had close contacts with those individuals," the department said.

Separately, health officials said the first batch of 62 results from their community surveillance program that randomly tests samples from doctors' offices and other outpatient providers all came back negative. They said it was an encouraging sign. Positive results would have signaled the virus is spreading in the community. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.