Hawaii County That Had No Virus Cases Reports 1st Infection

Dec 12, 2020

HONOLULU — A county on a Hawaii island that was believed to be the last one in the U.S. without any coronavirus infection cases has reported its first resident who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The Hawaii Department of Health on Thursday reported the case in Kalawao County on the island of Molokai.

The health department said Thursday that an adult resident tested positive after returning to the island on a flight.

The person, who was not identified, is in self-isolation and being monitored but has no virus symptoms, the department said.

Contact tracing has been conducted and all of the person's recent close contacts were asymptomatic and being monitored, the department said.

All other passengers on the flight were also in self-quarantine, the department said.

The infected person is a resident of Kalaupapa Settlement. The community once served as a home for medical patients with Hansen's Disease, also known as leprosy, who were forced to relocate and isolate there.

The state abolished the law requiring the isolation in 1969. But former patients who chose to remain were allowed to continue living in Kalaupapa with state support.

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.