Couple stopped at airport over COVID-19 suspicions
They test negative for the novel coronavirus
A couple en route to boarding a plane back to Seattle at Kahului Airport on Monday night was stopped by health officials over coronavirus concerns, which led to them both being tested, according to state officials.
Their tests came back negative for COVID-19, state Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo said Tuesday night.
The family of two was taken from the airport Monday by Maui District Health Office officials to “accommodations,” which were not disclosed. Okubo said the two were “self-quarantining” with supervision by the Maui office while they awaited the results of the test.
“One of the individuals had cold symptoms and both have a history of potential exposure outside of the state,” Okubo said Tuesday evening before the test results came back.
She said a sample was sent to the state laboratory for COVID-19 testing.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Timothy Sakahara on Tuesday confirmed the pending COVID-19 case on Maui and said the family had a round-trip flight from Seattle to Maui. He said the family included three members.
“There is a pending case with a family of three that was scheduled to fly out last night but was held back,” Sakahara said.
Details about how long the couple was on Maui, where they stayed and other information were not released by the state DOH, citing privacy and procedural rules.
“We are not releasing information on the couple to protect their privacy and preserve the investigation process,” Okubo said.
Marvin Moniz, Maui Airports district manager, said the family had not been showing symptoms or “signs of sickness” while at the airport Monday night. He said the airport was following the lead of state Department of Health officials, who stopped the family Monday night for questions in an airport conference room.
“At no time did we have confirmation that it is coronavirus,” Moniz said. “It was just extra questions that needed to be asked.”
Moniz said the family left in a rental vehicle and that the conference room was disinfected, which was echoed by Sakahara.
“Janitorial staff did go in and clean and disinfect,” Sakahara said. “They were wearing gloves and a mask. The passengers were being talked with in a conference room. That room was thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.”
Moniz said that state airports are taking extra measures to clean, and additional supplies, such as hand sanitizers, are fully stocked.
He said that airport officials are treating COVID-19 concerns like other health worries, and in-house emergency medical technicians are able to respond quickly to medical situations.
“If we see someone who looks really out of it or slouched over in a chair, whether airlines staff or Securitas, if there’s a question, we notify security or airport police,” he said.
In 2019, the airport had 589 medical calls, Moniz said.
* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at email@example.com.