The state Department of Health has recorded the first positive case of COVID-19 in an adult resident of Kalaupapa Settlement in Kalawao County on Molokai.
Health officials said in a news release this morning that “the individual received their positive test result after returning on a local flight to the Kalaupapa Settlement and is in self-isolation with no symptoms.”
The department conducted contact tracing, and close contacts on the same flight are in self-quarantine, officials said. All recent close contacts are asymptomatic and being monitored for any possible coronavirus symptoms, they said.
Kalawao County is under the management of the department and was reportedly the last county within the U.S. with no confirmed positive COVID-19 cases before today.
State health officials said they are coordinating with the National Park Service to ensure support for all of the individuals in quarantine and isolation.
“Everyone here recognizes the importance of the 14-day quarantine protocol to assist in protecting themselves, friends, family, and the broader Kalaupapa community,” Ken Seamon, Health Department administrator of Kalaupapa Settlement, said in the news release. “The affected individuals are being provided with necessary daily living support, guidance and any assistance required should COVID-19 symptoms develop.
“The individual who tested positive did the right thing in notifying us of the positive test result. We believe we can contain the virus here without a stay-at-home order for the entire settlement.”
Kalaupapa Settlement, on Molokai’s north shore, was the home for individuals who were forced to relocate under Hawaii laws mandating the isolation of Hansen’s Disease patients. The state abolished the law in 1969, and former patients who wanted to stay were allowed to continue living in Kalaupapa under the care of the state.