The traveler who tested positive for COVID-19 at the airport in Honolulu showed no symptoms and told officials that he felt fine. But a temperature check showed that he had a fever. That’s why he was flagged and tested.
Airport officials say because the passenger did not feel sick, he was allowed to go home under quarantine. The State Department of Health now has the task of tracing all the people he may have infected.
“He felt fine, he had no symptoms, he had no cough, he had no shortness of breath, and was surprised that we found a fever in him,” said Dr. James Ireland, Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting Medical Director.
He says the passenger is a Hawaii resident coming home from Arkansas, and arrived on Saturday in Honolulu. Screening showed he had a temperature of 101 degrees. The threshold for a fever is 100.4 and above. Normally, he would have been taken to a hospital to be tested.
“But because he felt fine, he didn’t want to go to the hospital which was reasonable. And so per our protocol, the paramedic at the airport contacted the DOH, the department of health, and they asked for a COVID swab at the airport,” said Ireland.
He says this shows that checking for fever is an effective tool. But we need other measures as we move forward and allow visitors to come back. The lieutenant governor adds that the state needs to minimize the risk of infecting other travelers.
“We have to be concerned about the other travelers, who they were with at the airport. We have to be concerned about what a global picture would look like as thousands and thousands come in every day,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
This comes as the state announced it’s getting $50 million in federal funding to help with testing, contact tracing, and laboratory upgrades. The state says it is trying to train up to 300 contact tracers.
“With 300 staff to expand the capacity of monitoring the investigation, we expect to build the capacity up to at least 1,000 cases per day. Hopefully, we will never be near that number. We are planning for the worst and are building up our capacity accordingly,” said Dr. Bruce Anderson, DOH director.
The health department is forming a partnership with University of Hawaii which will provide courses on contact tracing approved by DOH.