Hawaii Updates: First Coronavirus-Related Death, Model Projects 374 Deaths, DOH Maps 'Hot Spots'

Mar 31, 2020

The Hawaii Department of Health said a person who was diagnosed with coronavirus has died. The state is still investigating the case as other factors may have contributed to the person's death. 

Hawaii is seeing more COVID-19 cases of community spread and fewer that are travel-connnected as the restrictions on visitors to the island approaches its second week.

"We're seeing some signs of localized community transmission," said state Health Director Bruce Anderson at a press conference yesterday. He said as travel to the islands is restricted, health officials are seeing declines in cases with travel history.

Hawaii's coronavirus case count stands at 224 today, according to the state health department's latest update. The number of positive and presumptive positive cases represents an increase of 20 from Monday. Oahu now has a total of 157 coronavirus cases, Maui 25, Kauai 12 and the Big Island 15. 

Thirteen cases are pending county of diagnosis or residency and two residents were diagnosed out of state. Thirteen of the total cases have required hospitalization.

Wyoming is the only state without coronavirus deaths.

Statistical model projects 374 Hawaii deaths 

The White House has been using statistical models to project the coronavirus' march across the country. One projection estimates Hawaii could see 374 COVID-19 deaths through Aug. 4

That's the projection from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle. The estimates are based on data from World Health Organization and local and national governments. The statistical model forecasts deaths and hospital utilization against capacity by state.

Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, has cited the IHME projections in explaining how the virus could impact the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the infectious diseases expert, said if the coronavirus is left to itself, the numbers will spike unless mitigation measures are followed. He said there are signs that the measures are working.

Gov. David Ige said that the study was not entirely accurate becasue it does not take into account the new travel restrictions. He and Lt. Gov. Josh Green are working with the researcher to provide updated information.

Hawaii coronavirus case 'hot spots' mapped 

The Hawaii Department of Health released a map that shows where the state is seeing the most confirmed coronavirus cases, the so-called "hot spots" of infections.

Oahu with the largest population among the counties has the most cases at 139, with a large concentration stretching from Kailua to Kahala. There is also a growing cluster in Ewa Beach.

Maui has the second most cases at 25, with a large number of them clustered in the Wailuku area. Less impacted are Kauai with 12 and the Big Island with 15 cases.

There are now eight confirmed cases of community spread in the state. 

Interisland travel quarantine take effect 

Gov. David Ige is imposing a fourteen-day mandatory quarantine on interisland travelers starting midnight tomorrow and continuing through April 30. The emergency order will close a gap in the state safety net aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Domestic and international travelers arriving here are already under a two-week quarantine order. But some state lawmakers had questioned why interisland travelers weren’t subject to the same requirement.

Now they will be, but there are logistics to be worked out.

One is how essential workers like health care providers flying to another island will self-quarantine.

“You need to self-quarantine at the place of lodging. Then you go and travel to where you need to work or provide your care services," said Ken Hara, director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

 

"We're asking that you wear PPE for at least 14 days while you're doing these services, and then upon completion, go back to your place of lodging and then you'll be subjected to the self-quarantine.”

In a follow-up to the press conference, the state health department said essential workers will need to wear protective gear during flights.

Hara says the state is looking at whether family members who fly to another island for a day or two will need to abide by the 14-day quarantine order.

State still ramping up on ventilators, other equipment 

As other parts of the country struggle to get ventilators and other medical equipment, Hawaii is still making preparations for the expected continued rise of cases here in the islands.

Part of those preparations include an inventory of what might be available when it comes to emergency room beds, ventilators and other critical supplies.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green shared some specifics in that area at a press conference yesterday.   

As of yesterday afternoon, out of the 204 cases of coronavirus in Hawaii, six patients are in intensive care and two are on ventilators.

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

Editor's note: We’d like to hear how you’re coping with the latest developments in dealing with the spread of the coronavirus. You can call our talkback line at 808-792-8217. Or e-mail us at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.