Hawaii registered its third coronavirus related fatality Friday, the same day the state’s total number of documented infections surpassed 300.

The elderly Oahu man had traveled to Washington state earlier in March, Hawaii News Now reported. The man was Oahu ethnobotanist Art Whistler, 76, according to the report.

According to the Department of Health, he had been hospitalized in critical condition on life support for several weeks.

The news was a “tragic reminder of the virulent and contagious nature of this virus,” said DOH Director Bruce Anderson in a statement.

HPD on a loudspeakers tells beachgoers that they cannot be on the beach. Surfing is allowed.
All of Hawaii is under a stay-at-home mandate. Honolulu police told beachgoers that they cannot congregate on the sand, but surfing is allowed. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

At a press conference Friday, Anderson revealed more information about one of the three COVID-19 deaths Oahu has has seen to date. Two were elderly patients with travel-related cases. The other, which was confirmed on Wednesday, was a “middle aged woman” whose coronavirus infection was contracted in the community and not related to travel, he said.

The total number of COVID-19 cases documented in Hawaii reached 319 on Friday, after 34 new cases were confirmed overnight.

The majority of the latest cases were on Oahu. Several formerly “pending” cases have been redistributed to their respective counties as DOH investigations ensue.

Nine new cases were confirmed on Maui, taking Maui County’s case count to 36. The first case on Molokai — which is part of Maui County — was confirmed Thursday evening. And in rural east Maui, the town of Hana reported its first case.

Senate Majority Leader J. Kalani English said in an emailed statement that the news of a COVID-19 case in remote Hana was “alarming,” considering the region’s limited access to supplies and medical attention.

Two more cases were confirmed on the Big Island, taking the county’s total to 20. Kauai has the fewest number of cases to date, with 13 documented, including one new case confirmed Friday.

Three of the 34 cases announced Friday have required hospitalization, according to DOH. 

Six people were released from isolation after they had recovered. Nearly 80 people have been in that category, the department reports.

More than 80% of cases have been among residents who returned from other areas.

Hawaii laboratories — both private and public — have tested 12,283 people as of Friday. About 11,960 of those tests have come back negative.

At a Friday press conference, Gov. David Ige announced the activation of four Hawaii National Guard units, placing 250 people on state active duty to assist county and state agencies with security, transportation, and medical screening at airports.

Governor David Ige walks up to podium at the Capitol during an update on 3 dead from Coronavirus COVID19. April 3, 2020.
Reporters have been limited to asking questions via text message at press conferences held at the state Capitol. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Thirty-three hotels will start to take reservations on Monday for a “Hotels for Heroes” program, Hawaii Tourism Authority President & CEO Chris Tatum said. First responders including health care workers and firefighters will have the opportunity to rest after shifts in a place other than their homes, in case they want to practice social distancing away from family members.

Hawaii’s emergency stay-at-home mandate, which is currently scheduled to last through April 30, excludes essential activities such as grocery shopping, purchasing takeout food, medicine and gasoline, taking care of the elderly, minors, and those with disabilities, and medical appointments.

Walking pets, jogging, surfing, and other kinds of exercise should be conducted at a 6-foot distance from others, according to the health department.

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