First COVID-19 death reported in Hilo

Hawaii County has now suffered its first death from COVID-19.   The patient had been hospitalized at Hilo Medical Center.

Mayor Harry Kim said he cannot at this time comment further on the death, but will later.  He wants to make sure all the family members of the deceased have been notified of the death.  He said he takes the death personally, and is sad, and very concerned about the spread of the virus.

Mayor Kim wants to remind everybody that our island has many vulnerable people, with the elderly and anybody with underlying conditions being at most risk.  He said we had especially equipped the senior care homes with extra capabilities and precautions to protect the residents.

Mayor Kim said he does not want to do an island-wide lockdown, which would punish the majority who are following the COVID-19 precautions of wearing a mask and distancing.   He acknowledged that most of the recent cases are the result of large memorial gatherings at the end of July which drew hundreds of people, including those who had traveled in from off island.

The death came after the State Department of Health confirmed 310 new cases on Saturday, and Hawaii Island added 39, its highest count ever.  The State Department of Health report from Saturday at noon indicated there were 318 total cases on the island, with 166 “released from isolation,” or 152 people with known active cases of COVID-19.

This has brought the sadness and reality of COVID-19 to the Big Island.  The island’s total case count on August 1, 30 days ago, was 115, with zero active cases.

Even though the majority of cases are currently in East Hawaii, as a result of the memorial gatherings, there was a  large gathering in West Hawaii at Kahalu’u Beach last Sunday.  Kona Community Hospital has prepared for a surge, in case anybody who might have been carrying COVID-19 (knowingly or unknowingly) was at that event and might have spread it to others.  With luck, that will not happen.  But doctors are clear that 40% or more of those who have COVID-19 show no symptoms, so everybody needs to practice the known COVID-19 precautions.

There is COVID-19 testing today, in the parking lot at Prince Kuhio Mall from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., near the Macy’s Menswear store.

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