Hawaii re-testing 1st coronavirus death, homeless sweeps end

HONOLULU — Hawaii said officials recorded its first death from COVID-19, but later said they were re-evaluating test results.

State officials late Monday said the person had multiple underlying health conditions, and the available history of the person suggests they had a potential indirect travel-related exposure.

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On Tuesday, state Health Director Bruce Anderson said there were “procedural issues” with the test. “We should have conclusive results on that before the end of the day,” he said.

After announcing the death, officials learned of irregularities in the processing of the sample, Anderson said. “Just to be sure that we got the right result, we do want to run the test again and make sure that this is in fact a positive.”

Officials didn’t release many details about the person who died, including age or gender, and only said the person lived on Oahu.

So far, 90 people in Hawaii have tested positive for the coronavirus. Most were on Oahu, and most were infected while traveling out of state or after close contact with someone who had traveled, authorities said.

In other developments:

HOMELESS SWEEPS SUSPENDED

Honolulu suspended its sweeps of homeless people on Sunday in response to guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, city spokesman Alexander Zannes said.

The agency has recommended that authorities not clear homeless people unless housing units are available for them.

The CDC suggests that people sleeping outside set up tents with at least 12 feet (3.6 meters) by 12 feet (3.6 meters) of space per person and that nearby restrooms have functional water taps, soap and toilet paper. It recommends that officials provide portable latrines and hand-washing facilities for encampments of more than 10 people.

Honolulu had closed the bathrooms at its public parks, but said it would reopen them beginning Wednesday. Other park facilities will remain closed.

PUBLIC SCHOOL CLOSURE EXTENDED

The state Department of Education said it’s extending the closure of public schools through April 30 instead of bringing students back on April 7. The department is providing “grab-and-go” takeout meals at some school campuses.

Schools and teachers will be sending information to parents about online resources and instructional packets for learning. Schools are working toward providing accommodations for special education students.

DISEMBARKING CRUISE SHIP PASSENGERS

Passengers continued to disembark from a cruise ship in Honolulu that’s been rejected by other ports.

The Norwegian Jewel remained docked at Honolulu Harbor Tuesday, as its 2,000 passengers disembark for buses that will take them to chartered flights at the airport.

The last flight is anticipated to depart Tuesday night, said Tim Sakahara, spokesman for the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

“Coordinating the movement of 2,000 passengers from around the world requires tremendous logistics and involvement from federal, state and private agencies and we appreciate the support from everyone working to make it happen successfully,” Sakahara said in an email.

Hawaii officials initially said cruise ship passengers would be allowed to disembark and then changed their minds and said the ship could only refuel and resupply in Honolulu. As the Norwegian Cruise Line ship, which needs repairs, neared Honolulu on Sunday, Hawaii officials said all passengers would be allowed to leave to go straight to the airport to take chartered flights home.

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There are no cases of coronavirus on the ship, but passengers are undergoing medical screening, including thermal scanning before boarding buses to the airport.

Other cruise ships — with no passengers — are planning to enter Honolulu Harbor for fuel and provisions, the state Department of Transportation said. Crew members will remain on the vessels while at port.