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Hawaii health officials backtrack on state’s 1st coronavirus death; retest is negative for virus

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UPDATE 8:55 p.m.:

The Hawaii Department of Health today reclassified a death formerly attributed to the coronavirus as negative for COVID-19, blaming the confusion on a report being misread.

The patient was an Oahu adult who died on March 20. A second test of the patient’s samples came back negative for COVID-19 this evening.

DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said the state’s focus was on getting 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, the Health Department said. They previously were tested by a private clinical lab with inconclusive results.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

Hawaii health officials said today they are reevaluating the first death that was attributed to the coronavirus.

“There apparently were some procedural issues with regard to the test,” said Health Department Director Bruce Anderson.

He said the test was done by a private laboratory and the results were determined to be inconclusive.

“We’re wanting to run that test again,” Anderson said at a news conference today. “We should have conclusive results on that before the end of today.”

On Monday, state officials reported one person died from the virus, becoming the state’s first death from COVID-19.

Watch the state Department of Health’s news conference from today below:



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