Two test positive for COVID-19 on Kaua‘i

LIHU‘E — Two individuals who are currently in an isolation facility on Kaua‘i had been on-island for three days before the first was tested for COVID-19 and had been staying on Maui since March 2, according to state officials.

The visiting couple arrived on Maui on a United Airlines direct flight from the Mainland, stayed at a hotel in Lahaina, and started feeling symptoms shortly after arrival on Maui. Both were seen at urgent care facilities on Maui, where one tested negative for flu in a rapid-flu test.

The couple flew to Kaua‘i on March 8 on Hawaiian Airlines flight 149 and stayed at the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort &Beach Club from March 9 until they were placed in a county isolation facility on Friday, according to state officials who briefed the public on the status of the two cases of COVID-19 confirmed positive on Friday.

They were tested for the coronavirus at Wilcox Medical Center on March 12 after disclosing to health-care providers they had been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 on the mainland prior to travel.

Officials did not provide further information regarding the mainland location where the couple was exposed or which state the couple is from.

In a Saturday press conference, Gov. David Ige said the couple is being interviewed and officials are tracking their itinerary to “find out the places they went the tour they went on.” State Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office’s Dr. Janet Berreman confirmed that information Saturday, saying her department has been going over the couple’s activity on Kaua‘i and is contacting people who could have been exposed to the virus.

Berreman said they think most of the contact the couple had with the community was casual contact versus close contact — defined as face-to-face contact with three feet of space or less between people for 10 minutes or longer. Those who have had close contact with the couple are being alerted as information becomes available, officials said.

Saturday morning, Ige said three of those people were Kaua‘i health-care workers who weren’t wearing proper personal protective equipment when they treated the couple.

Hawai‘i Pacific Health Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Dr. Melinda Ashton clarified later Saturday afternoon that just one health-care worker on Kaua‘i — at the HPH Urgent Care Clinic — was not wearing PPE when in contact with the two Kaua‘i visitors who have tested presumptive positive for COVID-19.

“At the time of their visit to Kaua‘i Urgent Care, the two Kaua‘i visitors were not aware they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and did not meet any other CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or Hawai‘i Department of Health criteria for healthcare workers to wear PPE during their interactions. The health-care worker is now in self-quarantine,” Ashton said.

Wilcox Medical Center has the capabilities and is prepared to care for patients with COVID-19, Ashton confirmed. The center’s health-care providers and staff go through training on a regular basis related to reducing infection risks that includes proper use of PPE and protocols for isolating and caring for patients who present symptoms or test positive for these types of conditions.

When patients present with potential COVID-19 symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath) and any reason for being concerned about COVID-19, Ashton said staff will immediately begin the appropriate infection-control protocols, including isolating the patient and putting on the appropriate PPE.

“We continue to work closely with the Hawai‘i Department of Health and are taking all necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our patients, staff and community,” Ashton said.

HPH spokeswoman Kristin Bonilla also pointed out a change in hours for the drive-through sampling at Wilcox today. Wilcox Medical Center will be opening its drive-up specimen collection site today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Requirements are that people will need a physician order for the test, along with a photo ID and insurance card.

The Kaua‘i Marriott Resort &Beach Club is working with Berreman and the Kaua‘i District Health office on next steps, as well as monitoring alerts from the World Health Organization and CDC.

“We are aware of the news being reported,” said Paul Toner, general manager of the Kaua‘i Marriott Resort &Beach Club in Lihu‘e, in a statement to TGI Saturday. “We take hotel hygiene and cleanliness very seriously. We are taking steps to ensure the safety of our guests and associates, and we would always take guidance from public-health authorities as situations warrant. The wellbeing of our guests and associates is of paramount importance.”

Kaua‘i state Rep. James Tokioka and Senate President Ron Kouchi were present at the press conference, as were DOH officials.

All officials emphasized individual responsibility on Saturday: staying home if you’re sick, proper hand-washing, and following DOH and CDC guidelines.

Berreman also reminds the public that the number of health-care professionals on Kaua‘i is limited, and those feeling sick should call ahead and discuss their symptoms before visiting their health-care providers.

Wilcox Medical Center is doing drive-through sample collection for the COVID-19 test, which is being paid for by the state for those who have a physician’s recommendation.

Those who test positive for COVID-19, according to CDC, should remain under home isolation until the risk of transmitting the virus is thought to be low. Continuous contact with the individual’s health-care provider is crucial to that process.

If you’re feeling sick, CDC says to stay home, except to get medical care and to separate yourself from people and animals in your home.

“Although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus,” CDC recommendations state.

Saturday, Mayor Derek Kawakami said Kaua‘i County’s team has been getting ready for the day when a COVID-19 case appears on Kaua‘i.

“It was only a matter of time,” he said, highlighting the CDC’s social- distancing and hygiene recommendations and suggesting a shaka instead of the traditional handshake or kiss-and-hug greeting.

“This is about ‘ohana and community,” he said. “Now is the time to help one another. Do your part.”

27 Comments
  1. Vegreef March 14, 2020 10:39 am Reply

    Given that the virus can live for up to a few days on surfaces, it is important that the public be informed where these tourists ate and did their activities. They should be immediately interviewed by a county official, presumably appointed by the Mayor as a part of the County’s response, and then for example. The official can call the rental car company they used and that company can identify the car they used and thoroughly sanitize it; if they went zip-line, inform that company, or even the restaurants they ate at shoaled be identified and informed… … glad to see the cruise ships stopping anyway.


  2. Why? March 14, 2020 12:58 pm Reply

    All of these corona cases are travel related. Stop all travel to Kaua’i! We are not ready to handle this!


    1. Michael diamant March 15, 2020 4:31 am Reply

      Our islands, the inhabitants and the ecosystem have always been very susceptible to diseases being brought in from elsewhere. Because people can’t be relied upon to do the right thing, and in light of the virulence of Covid-19, it is up to our government to protect Hawaii’s population. Please, Governor Ige and Mayor Kawakami, just like the cruise lines are no longer making Hawaii a port of call, so should it be with the airlines, at least not for tourists. The safety and well-being of Hawaii depends on this action.


  3. Doug March 14, 2020 1:36 pm Reply

    “after disclosing to healthcare providers they had been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 on the Mainland prior to travel.”
    Words fail me at this point, how irresponsible of these people to be in close contact with a confirmed case and still travel????!!!!


    1. Dag March 15, 2020 12:55 pm Reply

      Reading fails you, too?
      “At the time of their visit to Kaua‘i Urgent Care, the two Kaua‘i visitors were not aware they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19…”


  4. Robin March 14, 2020 1:40 pm Reply

    What is wrong with people???? They know they were in contact with people that tested positive and they still traveled? And not only did they travel but they didn’t call urgent care first and say we have been exposed before they went in and infected an untold amount of people?

    I wish they could be sued, so far the cases we have had have been from people that have used poor judgement. Do they not understand that they could be directly responsible for deaths of people, especially our elderly who unknowingly came into contact with them?


    1. Jimmy March 15, 2020 5:18 am Reply

      If you would have read the whole article and paid attention to what you read you would have seen that: “At the time of their visit to Kaua‘i Urgent Care, the two Kaua‘i visitors were not aware they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and did not meet any other CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or Hawai‘i Department of Health criteria for healthcare workers to wear PPE during their interactions.


    2. Rabid March 15, 2020 12:57 pm Reply

      What’s wrong with your reading comprehension? The person who tested positive on the mainland did so after they left on the trip. Now reread what you wrote and tell me who should be sued.


    3. Lorraine Bergman March 15, 2020 2:37 pm Reply

      I wish we could sue people for unthinking and selfish stupidity, new law needed.


  5. Joe aina March 14, 2020 2:46 pm Reply

    Why would these kooks knowingly get on a flight to Maui when they had close contact with a confirmed case? Then after that, they fly to Kauai AFTER feeling symptoms! HO Guy talk about akamai


    1. Jimmy March 15, 2020 5:19 am Reply

      If you would have read the whole article and paid attention to what you read you would have seen that: “At the time of their visit to Kaua‘i Urgent Care, the two Kaua‘i visitors were not aware they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and did not meet any other CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or Hawai‘i Department of Health criteria for healthcare workers to wear PPE during their interactions.


    2. Everythingisawesome March 15, 2020 9:00 am Reply

      Can you people read?? They didn’t find out they had contact with a confirmed cwu-flu carrier until AFTER they were on island.
      Get off your holier-than-thou high horse.


    3. Moe aina March 15, 2020 12:59 pm Reply

      Does no one read the entire article before posting? The chain of events was not in the same order you wrote.


  6. David Mecham March 15, 2020 5:09 am Reply

    A test would have diagnosed them earlier when they showed symptoms. China can build an emergency hospital in two weeks, and we can’t even get enough tests to screen properly. What will happen when we don’t have enough ventilators I don’t see any articles on ventilator production.


  7. kauai gal March 15, 2020 9:24 am Reply

    The county needs to take a more aggressive approach to protecting the citizens of Kauai. Are they screening arrivals at the airport? The inter-island cruise ship was allowed to dock on Thursday and people disembarked….on Thursday! There are many people on this island who likely can’t survive coronavirus. Do something to protect our citizens from incoming infected visitors now!


  8. Jude March 15, 2020 9:37 am Reply

    The article neglects to say WHEN the couple found out their mainland contacts had CV-19. Did they learn about those test results before they traveled (probably unlikely) or where along the way did they find out? This is important information for the story.


  9. Riza March 15, 2020 1:27 pm Reply

    “after disclosing to health-care providers they had been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 on the mainland prior to travel.”

    I am at a loss for words for this level of stupidity and selfishness and irresponsibility. They just single-handedly harmed an untold number of people just because they didn’t want to pay their cancellation fees so they could still go on their little vacation. Entitled !@#$ !

    And the fact that local health-care providers were not wearing the proper protection when examining them is going to make it even worse. This island needs to shut down ALL tourism, because there’s no way it can survive this pandemic. We are the equivalent of a rural back-country town. We don’t have the infrastructure or knowledge or professionalism to cope with this virus.

    But I suspect the local government will just turn a blind eye to it, because tourism = $$$.


    1. Laurie March 16, 2020 8:39 pm Reply

      If you’d have continued reading, you’d have known the following: “At the time of their visit to Kaua‘i Urgent Care, the two Kaua‘i visitors were not aware they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and did not meet any other CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or Hawai‘i Department of Health criteria for healthcare workers to wear PPE during their interactions. The health-care worker is now in self-quarantine,” Ashton said.”


  10. Anon Ymouse March 15, 2020 1:37 pm Reply

    They went to Wilcox the same day they learned they’d been exposed to the virus. BUT…

    They knew they had SOMETHING on Maui that was bad enough to go to urgent care, and they kept traveling after that? Airports, airplane, hotel, restaurants, etc.? And they at least had it confirmed as not the flu at that point? C’mon! Someone tell us where they went at least….


  11. Kelly March 15, 2020 2:00 pm Reply

    So incredibly insanely selfish of these people!


  12. mina March 15, 2020 7:48 pm Reply

    The almighty tourist buck is still more important to Kauaiian merchants than their lives and the lives of their families. That will never change. Greed is why these people get out of bed in the morning. What we need to do is close restaurants, bars, theaters, and schools, and, for God’s sake, STOP LETTING CRUISE SHIP PASSENGERS ONTO THE ISLAND!! What, are you clueless? Insane? Why not just ask for a shipment of the live virus and drop it form helecopters over heavily populated neighborhoods.


  13. jake March 15, 2020 7:57 pm Reply

    Seriously, take a good look at your loved ones and friends. In less than 2 months they might be dead. I cannot believe Kauai is still pretending this is just a head cold circulating around. It is KILLING people! Have you any idea how fast and how far just one sick cruise ship passenger can spread this virus? Obviously the machineries of merchantilism aren’t going to shut down for
    a life and death matter, so it’s time to boycott them. Don’t attend, don’t buy, don’t promote. Do your best to stay safe, because it’s obvious Kauai county and the State truly don’t have Hawaii’s citizens best interests at heart.


  14. Laurie McCabe March 16, 2020 5:20 am Reply

    Please tell a visitor what to do when a condo owner (Who lives in San Diego, by the way—she is not an Island resident) refuses to refund $5000 or change the date for a young family from Oregon who saved for five years?

    One family member is immune compromised and is terrified to go. They also don’t want to be the people who infect the island. Two weeks ago they were told they should have gotten travel insurance (which doesn’t cover pandemics) and that they were “fear mongering.”

    A condo owner who doesn’t even live on Kaua’i should be more accommodating. Change the dates of the reservation.

    Hawaii has so few cases, it seems it would be the safe thing to do to restrict travel. But


  15. sillyputty March 16, 2020 8:52 am Reply

    Let’s be very real, right now. The cruise ships have not been stopped. The planes are coming back and forth all day long carrying not only passengers from other countries, but thousands of people from states that are hotpots. Including passengers on cruise-ships. The federal government, and even all of Trumps cabinet and everyone else in authority has said to stop all non essential travel. The people that continue to fly and get on cruise-ships for pleasure simply do not care. They do not care about us, infecting us, or anyone else. This is the bottom of the barrel of the tourism pool.

    Further, our own people do not take it seriously. Everyone is grumbling and complaining about closures. Its going to be next to impossible to get local people to stop hugging and kissing and giving the hawaiian kiss which involves rubbing noses and sharing breath. Good luck with that. We all live in close quarters in multi-generational families. Our kupuna take care of most of the keiki. Half of this island thinks it is a hoax, or they are immune because they have Jesus or are vegan, or are young.

    The system to get a test still says if you know someone who has coronavirus or have been in contact with someone who has it. We have all been exposed to people who have traveled to other places and we have no idea where they have been, so how to get tested when we have no idea? The visitors that are traveling unnecessarily right now know full well they have probably been in contact with someone possibly who has been. Then we have the cruise-ship staff, and all of our people in tourism who are exposed every day to multiple people from everywhere. Then they go home to their families.

    If we do not stop travel now, and everyone go on lock-down for at least 2 to 4 weeks, and we don’t relax testing guidelines so more of us can get tested, and we stop hosting all of the visitors who have it here I have news for you.

    Our friends and family will die. Visitors and younger people can be super-carriers, and shed the virus to hundreds of people. When you are shoulder to shoulder with tourists in all of the stores and everyone is breathing on everyone else, the virus is contacted through the nose mostly and through air droplets.

    It does not matter if its cold or hot or dry or humid, or what color your skin is. There is Coronavirus in Africa, in countries where it is cold, in countries where it is hot. Florida has the exact same climate as we do. They have deaths. They also have cruise-ships and planes full of tourists.

    This is a worldwide pandemic. Officially. It is hitting everyone everywhere. Spain had 400 deaths in one night, and they have everyone on lock-down. Kauai is a little island, a small close knit community of almost 80,000 people.

    People are laughing about it, calling it a joke, and a hoax. People are saying its ridiculous its not real, they aren’t afraid, they feel immune to it. People are saying “Oh well, I had a good life”. Do you not care about others? Wow. What happened. Are we all braindead?

    The first death on Kauai from someone in our community you will finally wake up. And then it will be too late. This will spread like wildfire here. And h our hospitals will be full of tourists, and our tests will be gone because instead of stopping them, we hosted them, above our own people.


    1. sunandsurf March 16, 2020 1:07 pm Reply

      Cruise ships are stopped for 30 days
      Agree with everything else you said


  16. Julia Liua March 16, 2020 9:14 am Reply

    This is the most irresponsible, maddening news imaginable. Why would anyone get on a plane and go ANYWHERE when they knew they were exposed, and if they started feeling ill when they arrived in Maui, why in the world would they continue to travel about and expose people and then of all things get on a plane and go to Kauai? Check into a hotel? Eat in restaurants and interact with hotel staff and others? These people should be sued, I have read in Australia people can face prison time for not self-quarantining – this is such awful news for the most beautiful island.


    1. sillyputty March 16, 2020 3:03 pm Reply

      Simple. These are the bargain basement tourists. The anti vaxxers, the selfish, the arrogant, the “It can’t happen to me”, the “You should all relax”, the “its all a hoax”. They may also be coming here knowing they have been infected, because they know they will get good care here, because we still have tests, and toilet-paper. And apparently super-secret places they can rest up at. Visitors to our island are traveling now, this week simply because they are selfish and do not care. They have been told not to fly unnecessarily or get on boats.

      Trump says hes going to bail out all of the industries and pay everyone for leave, So staying home isn’t a problem unless you have kids. Traveling now should be a crime. period. But even our own university just wants people to blow kisses or give each other the Shaka instead of closing down the university system and disinfecting it. Yes, that’s a thing and its real. Shameless.

      I fear that Kauai may soon be a real hotspot. We have only ourselves to blame for not stopping this madness earlier. I am a democrat, and our democratic governor sucks. He should cancel the cruise ships NOW. But he wont. Becasue prescious tourists are more important thann our minimum wage hard working poeple.


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