The family of Lee-Jacob “Coby” Torda continued hoping for news of improvement Sunday from Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center where Torda was in a medically induced coma due to his battle with the new coronavirus.
“He’s still the same as before,” said Torda’s older brother Leyton by phone Sunday. “It’s going to be a long one. We’re doing the best we can considering what’s going on.”
Leyton Torda, a Makakilo resident, said his family hasn’t been able to see Coby Torda, 37, since they took him to the hospital March 21 and were told they should immediately return home and go into self-quarantine. Coby Torda lives with his mother, father and spouse in Ewa Beach.
Leyton Torda hasn’t seen his brother since the beginning of this month, before Coby Torda became sick. Leyton Torda’s doctor told him that he didn’t need to be tested for the coronavirus.
Coby Torda is one of 175 individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hawaii. The tally increased by 24 on Sunday with new cases confirmed on all islands. The state Department of Health website said that as of noon Sunday there were 123 cases on Oahu, 20 on Maui, 12 each on Kauai and Hawaii island, and six cases awaiting more information.
Twelve of the positive cases required hospitalization, and no deaths had been reported due to the virus.
Also Sunday, the principal of Ka‘elepulu Elementary School in Kailua reported one person in the school’s community tested positive for the coronavirus.
Principal Cherilyn Inouye said in a statement that to avoid potential privacy violations, the state Department of Health will notify all those who may be potentially affected by the positive case.
She said anyone with concerns should call their health care provider and monitor the state’s COVID-19 website.
Also over the weekend, positive tests were reported for a Honolulu police officer and a firefighter. The president of the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers said the officer may have contracted the virus away from work and was at recovering at home.
A Honolulu Fire Department spokesman said the firefighter became infected by the virus while on leave. No other firefighters have been exposed to the virus, the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, drive-thru testing continued Sunday at Kakaako Waterfront Park where 1,065 were screened and 301 were tested, said Dr. Scott Miscovich, who led the effort in partnership with the City and County of Honolulu. It takes several days for the test results to be returned from the mainland.
A drive-thru testing event was also held on the Big Island, but the tally for that event was not immediately available.
Noticeably fewer vehicles lined up for the test Sunday in Kakaako compared with a week earlier when more than 2,000 people were screened and a line of vehicles stretched from the waterfront park down to Ward Avenue and back up Ala Moana Boulevard.
Miscovich said he increased the staffing by about 2-1/2 times to move the line quicker. People also had a better understanding of the symptoms they needed to qualify for a test, such as having a fever or a travel history, allowing a larger percentage to get the nasal swab.
This weekend, Miscovich and his company Premier Medical Group Hawaii tested 566 people, first at a Waipio test site on Saturday and then the Kakaako test site.
Miscovich, who says widespread testing is needed to contain the virus’ spread in the islands, will hold a screening today for longshore workers on Oahu and Molokai’s first drive-thru testing site Tuesday.
Testing has been limited on that island, which has about 7,000 people, so it is unknown whether the virus has spread there, Miscovich said.
Also this weekend, passenger arrivals continued to fall since Gov. David Ige’s order requiring travelers arriving in Hawaii to self-quarantine for 14 days took effect Thursday.
Only 1,207 people arrived in the islands Saturday, compared with the more than 30,000 passengers who were arriving daily at this time last year, the Hawaii Tourism Authority said.
Of those, only 151 were visitors; the rest were returning residents or crew members. Oahu received 1,055 of those arrivals, while 81 flew to Maui, 56 got off on Hawaii island and 12 went to Kauai.
As for Coby Torda, who remained on life support Sunday at Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center, strangers and friends continued sending text and social media messages and calling to share their well-wishes with family, said Leyton Torda, a union organizer for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1186.
Torda said he’s been heartened and humbled by the unexpected public support for his brother.
“Thank you for all the overwhelming support from the state of Hawaii,” he said. “We feel like the state of Hawaii is behind us now.”
He added that only now he is learning how popular his brother, a Waikiki bartender, is from the many people who have reached out from Hawaii and the mainland.
“Hopefully, Coby makes it out of this and he’ll be able to see, too,” Leyton said.
Star-Advertiser reporter Mark Ladao contributed to this report.