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Death wrongly attributed to COVID-19

The death of an Oahu resident was wrongly attributed to COVID-19, the state Department of Health announced Tuesday evening following a retest of the samples.

The state had announced Monday evening Hawaii’s first fatality due to COVID-19 in an adult resident who had died on Friday. A private clinical laboratory had tested swabs from the person with inconclusive results; the swabs were submitted to the state two days after the person died.

The State Laboratories Division conducted a test on Monday and announced that it had come back positive for COVID-19. However, health officials said that they’d noticed an “irregularity” in processing the sample and had to retest on Tuesday. The second test came back negative for COVID-19 on Tuesday evening.

In a news release, the Department of Health said that “internal communication” of the test resulted in the report being misread.

DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson said the state’s focus was to get information out in a timely manner. He called it an unprecedented situation and said the state is still developing best practices.

“I accept all responsibility for not verifying reporting procedures,” he said. “We’re immediately instituting measures to ensure this doesn’t happen again. My condolences to the family and friends of the person who passed away and our apologies for any undue anxiety this caused.”

As of Tuesday, Hawaii had 90 confirmed or presumptive positive cases of the virus, including 64 in Honolulu County, 12 in Maui County, five in Hawaii County, four in Kauai County and five of unknown locations.

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