As of March 14, 2020, there are a total of 4 confirmed positive test results for COVID-19 in Hawai‘i. Two positive results were announced today for two visitors on Kaua‘i who traveled from Indiana. The Department of Health received the test results last night and immediately notified the County of Kauaʻi and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The two individuals are in isolation under supervision and monitoring by the DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office. DOH is now 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. 

Isolation and quarantine help protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease. Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

At this time, at least three healthcare workers (one on Kauaʻi and two on Maui) have been excluded from work because of possible exposure.

Community Surveillance Testing Program

As announced earlier this week (https://health.hawaii.gov/news/newsroom/department-of-health-steps-up-testing-for-covid-19-about-200-tests-to-be-conducted-each-week/) the Hawai‘i State Department of Health launched a statewide surveillance testing program to identify cases and community spread of the coronavirus. Testing on the first two batches of samples collected statewide has been completed, and of the 62 random samples tested, all 62 were negative for COVID-19.

This is good news for Hawai‘i as positive results would have indicated “community spread” of the disease. While we cannot rule out community spread, the negative results are an encouraging benchmark.

Community spread is defined as cases that cannot be traced back to a traveler or those who came in contact with someone who has been affected by the coronavirus. The goal of the program to detect new cases quickly and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the United States.

Background on the surveillance program:

The Hawai‘i Department of Health, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is working with participating healthcare providers, primarily doctor’s offices and other outpatient settings, to collect samples to be tested for COVID-19. These are providers who normally collect samples from patients with respiratory symptoms to test for influenza. The Hawai‘i Department of Health will then randomly select from among those samples to test for COVID-19.

DOH Guidance on Public Events and Group Gatherings

To protect the public’s health and wellbeing, the Hawa‘i Department of Health is recommending large, crowded gatherings or public events be postponed or canceled. The Department of Health is recommending gatherings held in enclosed spaces that do not allow social distancing also be postponed or canceled or held virtually. When possible, attendees should be about two-arms-length or six feet apart. Elderly adults and those with underlying health conditions who are at a greater risk for COVID-19 or respiratory illnesses should avoid attending large public gatherings.

Clarification of COVID-19 Test Candidates

COVID-19 testing is not intended for all residents. Testing those who are well or at low risk for exposure is not an efficient use of resources. To ensure judicious use of resources, healthcare providers statewide are triaging and determining if their patients meet the criteria to initiate COVID-19 testing. Patients must have a physician’s order to be tested. 

This week, the Department of Health issued a medical advisory with risk assessment and management guidelines to healthcare providers to identify patients who are most at risk for COVID-19 infection. Those considered at high risk are those who have been living with an intimate partner, or are caring for a person who has been confirmed positive for COVID-19.

Those who are at medium risk are those who have traveled to an affected country or state, as determined by the CDC, within the past 14 days; have had intimate contact with a confirmed symptomatic person; or have had close contact with a symptomatic person without precautions.

Testing at the DOH State Laboratories Division is being conducted on Persons Under Investigation who are at high or medium risk.

Persons who are considered low risk are those who have been in the same indoor environment such a planes and restaurants without having close contact with a confirmed symptomatic person.   

The Queen’s Medical Center – Punchbowl 

The Queen’s Medical Center – Punchbowl has established a triage center. A tent has been set up to screen patients for COVID-19 from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Only symptomatic people at risk who have doctor’s orders will be tested. The tent is only for those with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms. Patients that need any significant level of care will be triaged into the main emergency room. Other healthcare facilities, including those on the neighbor islands, also have plans to establish similar COVID-19 testing sites.

Matson continuing operations without interruption

Matson issued the following statement yesterday in response to concerns circulating in Hawaiʻi about service disruption: All Matson operations continue uninterrupted. Matson intends to maintain all service schedules as normal with three arrivals a week to Honolulu and twice a week calls to each neighbor island port. Matson is committed to taking all appropriate steps to ensure the continuation of services, including the deployment of reserve vessels if necessary to continue meeting the needs of our customers. Matson is monitoring developments closely and ensuring compliance with all United States Coast Guard and local, federal and international government reporting and prevention directives for maritime operations. Matson also has frequent and regular communication with the United States Coast Guard and Hawaiʻi State Department of Transportation regarding commercial port operations.

Extended Hours for Public Calls to AUW 2-1-1 on COVID-19

Aloha United Way has extended its public call center hours to 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., 7 days a week. For more information or questions about COVID-19:

COVID-19 Summary of Numbers as of March 14, 2020 at 4 p.m.

(updated as new information becomes available)

Number of Confirmed Case(s)*      4  
Number of Persons Under Investigation (current, testing pending)      0  
Number of Persons Under Investigation (closed, testing negative)   49  
Number of Persons Self-Monitoring with DOH supervision   23  

Of the 23 individuals who are self-monitoring with public health supervision, 20 are on Oʻahu and 3 are on Maui. These numbers fluctuate often as travelers arrive, depart, or begin and end their self-monitoring with supervision by DOH.

Confirmed: Meets CDC criteria and positive test result received from a certified laboratory such as the DOH State Laboratories Division.

*Today, CDC advised states that respiratory samples positive for SARS-CoV2 in a state and public-health laboratory will be considered “positive” with no need for further testing. 

Person Under Investigation (PUI): Meets CDC criteria for investigation and testing pending.

Monitoring: Individuals voluntarily remain at home and refrain from work, school, gathering places, and public transit. They communicate daily with Department of Health staff.