LIHU‘E — Thursday, the county announced its second COVID-19-related fatality, claiming the life of an elderly female Kaua‘i resident who was hospitalized on O‘ahu, according to the state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office.
“We are saddened to report the news of the second death of a Kaua‘i resident as a result of COVID-19,” Mayor Derek Kawakami said in a statement. “We extend our most sincere warmth, prayers and aloha to the family and loved ones of the individual for this painful loss.”
The county’s first on-island COVID-19 fatality occurred in November 2020 in an elderly male with no travel history. An off-island Kaua‘i resident died in Arizona last year.
Thursday, the DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office also reported two new cases, one related to inter-island travel and one infection that’s considered community-acquired. This brings the county’s number of active cases to eight, with 243 culminated cases, with 208 confirmed locally, two probable and 33 diagnosed elsewhere.
Throughout the state, the DOH reported a total of 476 fatalities and 31,658 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
More details on household cluster
This week, the county announced the identification of the more-transmissible California variant, B1.429, among a seven-member household cluster. This was the first case of community transmission of that variant since January.
Linked to inter-island travel, this variant is currently spreading throughout O‘ahu and Maui.
“Some of our cases this week exposed large numbers of contacts,” said Lauren Guest, DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office public-health-preparedness planner Thursday. “That is because people continued their normal activities, including going to work and school, while sick. This put a lot of Kaua‘i residents at risk.”
The cases of this household cluster were identified and announced over the course of several days at the end of March, DOH Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said in an email Wednesday evening.
Whole-genome sequencing takes place at the state DOH State Laboratory facility on O‘ahu, said Berreman. And the process takes a minimum of eight working days.
“Not all specimens are ultimately sufficient for obtaining a result,” she said. The time between the specimens reaching the lab and the obtaining of results varies. “These samples were run in a batch, and results received in the last few days.”
The variant was found when seven members of a household tested positive for COVID-19 in March after two had traveled inter-island, the county said in a press release Wednesday. Four of the household members were discovered to have the variant.
“Because of the significant transmission in the household and the travel history, samples from several of these cases were submitted for genomic sequencing to see whether they might be one of the variants of concern identified by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” that press release said.
All four samples were confirmed to be the variant B1.429 from this process.
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.