We need to raise $75,000 by September 1 to ensure that our newsroom remains strong during this time when accurate and in-depth information is needed the most. While asking for your donation is not something we like to do, the simple fact is that our reporters, our journalism, and our impact rely on it. If you are in a position to help, we would be grateful for your support!
We've raised $25,000 toward our $75,000 campaign goal!
An Oahu man who traveled on a cruise ship that’s been linked to more than two dozen coronavirus cases has tested positive for the virus, Governor David Ige said Friday.
The man traveled on the Grand Princess’ voyage from San Francisco to Mexico in early February, and flew directly home to Honolulu from Mexico. The same ship later docked at four Hawaii ports.
The Department of Health would not disclose the date of his flight from Mexico to Honolulu, what airline he took, or any other details about his age and current situation, but said that he is well and recovering at home.
“This individual fell ill while here in the islands, contacted their doctor, got tested and assessed appropriately and was able to go home and is doing fine at home,” said Dr. Sarah Kemble, Deputy State Epidemiologist at the Hawaii Department of Health.
The man had decided to self-quarantine himself as a precaution, and saw a doctor when he fell ill, DOH Director Bruce Anderson told Civil Beat. A test conducted Friday at the Hawaii State Laboratory confirmed he was infected with COVID-19.
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii officials confirmed the man sought medical care at their hospital.
“Per CDC infection control protocol, we can acknowledge that Kaiser Permanente is overseeing the care of a coronavirus patient who is home in self-isolation and being treated on an outpatient basis,” said Dr. Tarquin Collis, Kaiser’s chief of Infectious Disease, in a statement. “We are in touch with and monitoring the patient.”
Officials said their investigation thus far shows he did not interact with anyone after he arrived in Honolulu from Mexico.
“We know the person did not have any contact with anyone once he got home so that’s good news for us,” Kemble said.
At a Friday morning press conference in California, federal officials said that at least 21 people on the Grand Princess tested positive on a subsequent voyage that stopped at four Hawaii ports in late February.
Anderson said four Hawaii residents are believed to currently be docked on the cruise ship in San Francisco waters. The Grand Princess is being held in California as authorities work to determine how to disembark passengers and crew members, test all of them and place them into quarantine.
He told Civil Beat it is unknown how many cruise passengers, local or not, got off the boat during each of its four port stops, but federal and state authorities are investigating and will contact anyone they believe came into close contact with them on land.
Vice President Mike Pence said during the California press conference that of those who tested positive on the ship, 19 are crew members. He said the passengers and crew will be brought to a non-commercial port and everyone will be tested for the virus. There are some 3,500 people on the vessel, all of whom will be tested for the coronavirus, Pence said.
“The general risk to the public remains low,” Pence said, adding that the elderly are at highest risk of developing serious illness and may want to reconsider travel for the foreseeable future.
The testing of 46 people on the vessel was prompted by the death earlier this week of a Sacramento-area man who was diagnosed with coronavirus, which he apparently contracted during the Mexico cruise that started Feb. 11 and wrapped up Feb. 21.
At least five other people on that Mexico cruise have since tested positive for coronavirus.
After wrapping up that California-Mexico round trip, the Grand Princess took a cruise to Hawaii. On Wednesday, Hawaii officials alerted the public to the cruise ship’s link to islands.
The Grand Princess made multiple port calls in Hawaii from Feb. 26 to 29. The vessel’s itinerary was:
The vessel then continued on to its other planned destination before turning around to return to California early after the Sacramento man died.
A crew member was hospitalized in Hilo during the port call last month, but that patient tested negative for coronavirus, according to Anderson.
The Hawaii state laboratory has the ability to conduct 250 tests in a week, and can double that number if necessary. The state may also tap testing resources at private laboratories if needed in the future.
Gov. Ige said the priority for testing currently falls to those who may have a connection to the cruise or anyone infected.
Close contact is considered to be a personal face-to-face interaction that lasts more than 10 minutes, according to the Hawaii health department.
“We want to have the test available for those who might need it the most, so we are counting on our physicians to identify those who are the highest probability candidates who might have the virus and those are the ones we’re testing,” Ige said.
Going forward, Anderson said Hawaii health officials will consider testing more people with respiratory illnesses that “might be unrecognized as COVID-19.”
The plan, he said, was to start next week by taking as many as 200 samples from Hawaii residents for testing.
“I expect within a week or two we’ll be at testing capacity,” Anderson said.
Nationwide, 14 people have now died from the virus and dozens have tested positive.
The World Health Organization has also updated the death rate from the virus, saying it appears to be around 3.4% based on all available statistics.
But authorities also cautioned that the figure is likely to change as more information is available. Public health officials believe that many mild cases of the coronavirus are not being counted.
The death rate from the seasonal flu is about .1%.
Our evolution as a public service news organization over the past 10 years has prepared us for this moment in time, when what we do matters the most.
Many of you have supported Civil Beat from the beginning. We are deeply grateful to all of you for making this nonprofit news experiment possible.
As Civil Beat embarks on our summer fundraising campaign, we’re asking readers to contribute what you think we’re worth. Whether you’ve valued our public service journalism for 10 years or 10 days, now is the time we need you the most.