State Recalls Initial COVID-19 Related Death as Test Proves to be Negative

The Hawai`i Department of Health reports that a misread COVID-19 test resulted in the false announcement of the State’s first virus related death.

Officials with DOH say internal communication of a COVID-19 test at the State Department of Health resulted in the report being misread. A retest of samples was then conducted and it came back negative for COVID-19.

The O‘ahu adult who died on March 20.

DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson says the Department’s focus was to get information out in a timely manner.

“This is an unprecedented situation and we’re still developing best practices,” Anderson said. “I accept all responsibility for not verifying reporting procedures. 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.”

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.

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