A nurse practitioner from Colorado who was in Hawaii for two weeks in February is under isolation back home after testing positive for COVID-19.
Lisa Merck, 50, and her husband visited Oahu, Hawaii island and Maui from Feb. 3 to 18, but she said she did not feel symptoms until leaving Hawaii.
“All I got was a sniffly nose. … And then I started getting a few body aches. Like my neck started hurting, and then my shoulders. And then I got back to Crested Butte, and I thought, ‘Oh, it was from traveling,’ ” Merck said by telephone.
She and her husband stayed in Waikiki and on the North Shore while on Oahu from Feb. 3 to 9; in Hilo and Kona while on Hawaii island Feb. 9-12; and in Lahaina while on Maui until Feb. 18.
Merck is not sure if she got the coronavirus while vacationing in Hawaii or while she was back home in Crested Butte, Colo., which she said is a resort area.
“I’m a health care provider, too. I could’ve gotten it from a patient or contact in the airport. We were on a bus, we were on trains, we were on planes,” Merck said. “I don’t know where I got it, and I didn’t know I had it. And I certainly wouldn’t have been traveling around or going out in the community if I knew I had it.”
Merck, who runs a clinic in Colorado, is in isolation at home as she recovers from the illness.
She said she did not have the kind of exposure to people in Hawaii that may have led to transmission of the coronavirus. She also said she was diligent in her hygiene, mentioning that she would open doors with paper towels or sleeves and would use protective clothing in areas with a lot of people.
“When my husband and I were traveling on the airplane, we had our hoodies up and I had a little hole in my hoodie, and I wore a little buff across my face, and I wore a hat and I wore gloves, and my husband was cracking up,” Merck said. “I was worried about catching it, and I caught it.”
Gov. David Ige revealed Saturday that a couple that visited Kauai and Maui represent the third and fourth cases of the coronavirus in Hawaii.
Ige said he was not aware of Merck’s case but that Hawaii is constantly communicating with other states and any positive cases of COVID-19 are shared so officials can follow up with potential contacts.
“We are in dialogue all the time with all the states,” he said.
Colorado had 101 cases as of Saturday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment reported that six of those 101 cases are in Gunnison County, where Crested Butte is located.
Reporter Rob Shikina contributed to this report.