HONOLULU(KHON2) — An elderly woman and man are the latest casualties of COVID-19. According to the Department of Health, both were Oahu residents with underlying health conditions. And both were hospitalized at the time of their death. The DOH said the deaths should be a warning of how quickly the virus spreads from person to person.
“Today we received the heart breaking news that two more of our neighbors passed away due to COVID-19,” said Governor David Ige at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
“I want to extend my sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of the victims.”
The elderly woman and an elderly man are the 28th and 29th fatalities of the virus.
State Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said that the female “was an individual who was at a Pearl City nursing home before she passed away.”
Dr. Scott Miscovich, who was involved with testing the nursing home patients, said the woman was linked to the cluster of cases at the nursing home, in mid July.
State Department of Health’s epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park said the man who died was also linked to a known cluster.
“The passing of this man really demonstrates how rapidly and invisibly COVID-19 is spreading through our communities, particularly on O’ahu and particularly associated with clusters. A close contact of this individual attended a spin class at a gym taught by a person linked to the Hawaiian Airlines cluster.”
In a statement Hawaiian Airlines said:
“All of us at Hawaiian Airlines express our deepest sympathies to all who have lost friends and family to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson also confirmed that 17 Hawaiian Airlines employees contracted the virus during a training program in June.
DOH said that eight family members of those workers tested positive and that one person then infected more than 20 people at two gyms. The elderly man is linked to one of those individuals.
The man’s death marks the second linked to the Hawaiian Airlines cluster. The first was Jeff Kurtzman, a Hawaiian Airlines Los Angeles-based flight attendant who participated in the June training session. Kurtzman had been with the company since 1986.
Anderson said if the state doesn’t get a handle on the virus, cases could reach 500 per day by late August, which will overwhelm hospital resources.
“We have two models we look at recently, both of which project we’ll see the ICU beds fully occupied by the 21st I think it was, and even earlier in one model the 19th, so a couple weeks out,” explained Anderson.
Anderson said that is why it’s so important to take personal responsibility.
“If you’re sick, stay home. If you’re around other people, wear your mask and practice physical distancing. These are proven methods to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.”