Hawaii officials: Testing error led to report of 1st death

A follow-up test has determined that what was believed to be Hawaii’s first coronavirus death was inaccurate.

The person died on Friday. Late Monday, officials said it was Hawaii’s first coronavirus death. But on Tuesday afternoon, state Health Director Bruce Anderson said the sample needed to be re-tested because of irregularities.

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The second test came back negative for COVID-19, Anderson said in a news release late Tuesday.

“I accept all responsibility for not verifying reporting procedures,” Anderson said in a statement. “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.”

Officials had been focused on getting information out quickly, Anderson said.

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, according to the state.

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.

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

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For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.)

As of Tuesday, 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.

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