LIVE: Health Department Addresses COVID-19 Testing Concerns in Hawai‘i

March 13, 2020, 1:42 PM HST · Updated March 14, 4:06 AM
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3/13/20 – Dr. Bruce Anderson, Director of Health, Dr. Sarah Park, Epidemiologist, Disease Outbreak Control Division & Hilton Raethel, President Hawaiʻi Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi discuss the state’s guidelines for families during spring break.

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 that include 100 people or more be postponed or canceled. These events include concerts and conferences, as well as professional, college and school sporting events. The Department of Health is recommending smaller gatherings held in enclosed spaces that do not allow social distancing also be postponed or canceled or held virtually. When possible, attendees should be no fewer than 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.

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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 is 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, within the past 14 days; has had intimate contact with a confirmed symptomatic person; or has 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 conduct COVID-19 testing from 10 am to 6 pm daily. Only symptomatic people at risk 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, are also have plans to establish similar COVID-19 testing sites.

Community Surveillance Testing Program

The first samples collected from the community surveillance program are being tested this week. The program, announced earlier this week, is being conducted in collaboration with the CDC. The tests are being conducted at the Department of Health’s State Laboratories Division.

The Department of Health will be testing samples from patients with respiratory symptoms that have been collected by doctor’s offices and outpatient settings statewide. The results will enable the state to identify and notify persons who test positive and take additional actions to try to stop the spread of the virus. The Department of Health will contact the provider and patient in the event of a positive result and provide further guidance.

Matson continuing operations without interruption

Matson issued the following statement today 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 13, 2020 at 2:30 pm
(updated as new information becomes available)

Number of Presumptive Positive or Confirmed Case(s)  2
Number of Persons Under Investigation (current, testing pending)  7
Number of Persons Under Investigation (closed, testing negative)45
Number of Persons Self-Monitoring with DOH supervision27

Of the 27 individuals who are self-monitoring with public health supervision, 24 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.

  • Presumptive Positive: A presumptive positive result is when a patient has tested positive by a public health laboratory, but results are pending confirmation at CDC. For public health purposes, a presumptive positive result using the CDC test is treated as a positive.
  • Confirmed: Meets CDC criteria and positive test result received from a certified laboratory.
  • Person Under Investigation (PUI): Meets CDC criteria for investigation and testing pending.
  • Quarantine: Individuals are required to remain in a designated location and separated from others. They are actively monitored by Department of Health staff. Quarantine is enforceable by law.
  • Monitoring: Individuals voluntarily remain at home and refrain from work, school, gathering places, and public transit. They communicate daily with Department of Health staff.
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