Hawaii Health Officials Investigating Second Coronavirus Case In Islands

Mar 8, 2020

Updated: 3/9/2020, 10:30 a.m.

Hawaii officials are investigating two cases of presumed positive coronavirus cases, the latest involving a man who traveled to Washington state and was isolated in serious condition at Kaiser Permanente's Moanalua hospital on Oahu.

Gov. David Ige and health officials said Sunday that the elderly man became ill in Washington on March 2 and flew back to Oahu on March 4.

The man visited an urgent care clinic as soon as he returned to Hawaii and then went home, where officials believe he remained until an ambulance was called Saturday to take him to the hospital.

Kaiser issued a statement Sunday confirming that it is caring for the elderly man and overseeing the care of Hawaii's first coronavirus patient, who is self-quarantined at home. He was said to have mild to moderate symptoms.

"Kaiser Permanente is working closely with federal, state, and local health officials on the COVID-19 situation. Health care facilities across the country and in Hawaii can expect to see more cases as this outbreak evolves," the health care system stated.

Federal officials are tracking down passengers who were near the elderly man on his flight from Washington. Late Sunday night, officials said the man traveled on Hawaiian Airlines flight HA21 from Seattle to Honolulu on March 4.

State Epidemiologist Sarah Park declined to give the exact ages of the men who are Hawaii's two cases, other than describing the latest patient as elderly and the first as an adult. She said that information is private.

But Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Monday at a press conference hosted by Kokua Council that the elderly man is in his 90s.

Ige emphasized that both cases involve infection from out of the state. "I just want to remind you that we have no evidence of community spread," he said.

Nonetheless, officials urged residents to be vigilant.

"Everyone of us should be monitoring our own health," Park said. Anyone who is having serious symptoms, including high fever and difficulty breathing, or have underlying medical conditions, should be calling their doctors. Let them know your travel history, she added.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been notified about Hawaii's second coronavirus patient and the state is working with federal officials to follow up on latest case. The state Department of Health plans to talk with any Hawaii resident who had close contact with the patient. 

Close contact is defined as interaction with an infected person lasting at least 10 minutes, which covers household members and healthcare workers. In the latest Hawaii case, officials are contacting airlines passengers who sat within two rows of the elderly man.

On Friday, officials announced Hawaii's first positive coronavirus case. The Hawaii man was a passenger on the Grand Princess cruise ship when it visited Mexico. He returned to Oahu, was checked by a doctor and tested positive for the illness. 

Passengers on the Grand Princess are scheduled to dock in Oakland Monday and disembark, possibly over several days. They will be tested and quarantined. Over 20 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed on the ship. Most are crew members who fell ill after the ship left Hawaii, where the ship visited Feb. 26-29.

Health Director Bruce Anderson said the state believes there are four Hawaii residents on the ship.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates. Do you have questions about coronavirus? Email us at hawaiipublicradio.org, tweet us @wearehpr or call our talk back line at 808-792-8217.