UPDATE: Reevaluation of State’s First Reported COVID-19-Linked Death Comes Back Negative

March 23, 2020, 9:52 PM HST · Updated March 24, 9:22 PM
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UPDATE: (8:41 p.m. 3.24.20)

Internal communication of a COVID-19 test at the Dept. of Health resulted in a report being misread and initiated a retest of samples today from an O‘ahu adult, who died on March 20th. This evening the second test came back negative for COVID-19.

DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson says our focus was to get information out in a timely manner. This is an unprecedented situation and we’re still developing best practices. Anderson said, “I accept all responsibility for not verifying reporting procedures. We’re immediately instituting measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.  My condolences to the family and friends of the person who passed away and our apologies for any undue anxiety this caused.”

Swabs from the person were submitted to the state laboratories two days after the person died. They’d originally been tested by a private clinical laboratory with inconclusive results.

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UPDATE: (3.24.20, 2:30 p.m.)

The state Department of Health is currently reevaluating its first reported COVID-19 death in the state after encountering what they called “procedural issues.”

Preliminary testing through a private laboratory was deemed inconclusive. Last night, authorities reported that follow-up testing by the State Laboratories Division, confirmed COVID-19.  Today, the state is taking a step back from that determination, saying they want to run a test again and should have conclusive results by the end of the day.

The state Health Department is looking at requiring retesting of any sample to ensure accuracy.

PREVIOUS POST: (3.23.20)

An O‘ahu adult who passed away on March 20 is Hawai‘i’s first death from COVID-19, the Hawai’i State Department of Health announced Monday.

Officials say the patient suffered from multiple underlying health conditions. The available history for this person suggests they had a potential indirect travel-related exposure.

The person had been tested at a clinical commercial laboratory, and the results were indeterminate. Follow-up testing today, by the State Laboratories Division, confirmed COVID-19.

“All of Hawai‘i expresses condolences to the family of the person who died and shares in grieving their loss. Everyone is encouraged to take care of themselves and their loved ones during these difficult times,” a press release from the department read.

More updates will be provided as they become available.

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