AP NEWS

Virus patient associated with Maui hospital cluster dies

April 22, 2020 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii authorities on Tuesday reported a death associated with a cluster of coronavirus cases at Maui Memorial Medical Center while Honolulu’s mayor extended his city’s stay-at-home order through May 31.

The man who died was 65 or older and had an underlying health condition, the Hawaii COVID-19 Joint Information Center said. He had been at the hospital since late last year.

The COVID-19 cluster occurred after an infected employee went to work despite not feeling well. As of Monday, as many as 36 staff members and 20 patients have been confirmed as having the infection or shown symptoms, officials said.

The hospital hasn’t had any new cases of COVID-19 since April 8, when the facility adopted universal use of face masks and daily symptom screenings for all employees, state Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said. He said the cases at the hospital appear to be contained and controlled.

The state said an Oahu man with the disease also died. The man, who was 65 or older, had underlying health conditions and was hospitalized late last month. He was discharged after improving but his health declined and he died Monday.

The virus has caused 12 deaths in Hawaii. On Tuesday, the state reported two new cases of the disease for a total of nearly 590.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he would extend the city’s stay-at-home order for another month to limit the spread of the virus, though he said officials would explore gradually reauthorizing some activities.

First on the reopening list would be the city’s 300 parks, Caldwell said. However, he said they would only open for exercise like jogging and walking. Contact sports like basketball won’t be allowed, nor will gatherings. Playground equipment will be off-limits, he said. The parks will reopen Saturday morning.

The city will be able to relax more restrictions if the number of new cases continues to stay low, the health care system has sufficient intensive care unit beds and ventilators, the state Department of Health tracks the contacts of those infected and people continue to wear masks and keep their distance from other people, the mayor said.

The city plans to boost COVID-19 testing by spending $2 million to buy 10,000 tests to be administered by community health centers around Oahu. The money for this will be diverted from a project to replenish sand at Ala Moana Beach Park, Caldwell said.

Authorities arrested a 34-year-old woman from Las Vegas and a 33-year-old man from Sydney, Australia, for violating the mandatory 14-day quarantine required of travelers to Hawaii. Special agents from the attorney general’s office allege the two repeatedly left their hotel room in Waikiki since arriving on April 15. They were taken back to their hotel to finish their quarantine after their Tuesday morning arrest.