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COVID-19 patient at hospital tests negative

Maui Memorial to start rapid universal testing today

The last confirmed patient with COVID-19 at Maui Memorial Medical Center has tested negative for the virus, a hospital spokeswoman said on Sunday.

Tracy Dallarda said that the patient has been in the hospital since mid-February for a medical issue unrelated to COVID-19. While the person has not shown symptoms of the virus, they needed to have two back-to-back negative tests in order to be confirmed negative.

“The patient was continuing to shed the virus, so even though one test result came back negative, a subsequent test revealed a positive,” Dallarda said via email. “This is why it is vital to have two negative results for confirmation.”

Dallarda said that a positive test did not necessarily mean the patient was actively contagious, but that they continued to be isolated in a “warm unit” as a precaution. The patient is now awaiting bed placement at another facility, and Dallarda said she was not sure when the person would be discharged.

Because the hospital now has rapid testing available, the patient was able to be tested Saturday, with results available within a few hours.

Starting today, the hospital will begin universal COVID-19 testing for all patients admitted through the Emergency Department, as well as all obstetrics patients, Dallarda said. Testing will expand Wednesday to include direct admissions.

“This new protocol is essential in identifying individuals who may be carriers of COVID-19, yet present with no symptoms,” Dallarda said. “Universal testing will help minimize unnecessary exposures and provide additional safeguards for our employees, providers and patients when we experience our next surge.”

Testing will be performed in the Emergency Department with results available within three hours. Patients will remain in the department until results are confirmed and bed placement can be arranged. If, however, a patient has been exposed or is symptomatic, they will go directly to isolation in a “warm unit.”

Maui Memorial, which has closed most of its warm units as cases have declined statewide and the outbreak at the hospital came to an end, will continue to keep a unit open for any future cases.

On Sunday, two new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Oahu. There have now been 675 cases statewide — 441 in Honolulu County, 120 in Maui County, 81 in Hawaii County and 21 in Kauai County. Twelve residents have been diagnosed outside the state.

On Saturday, the state Department of Health reported nine new cases for the second day in a row, including eight on Oahu and one resident diagnosed out of state. Nine new cases were also reported Friday, though this included four older cases after the department corrected discrepancies in lab reporting.

As of Sunday, 84 Hawaii residents have been hospitalized for the virus, and a total of 617 people have been released from isolation.

There remain 17 deaths in the state; no coronavirus-related fatalities have been reported since a Maui woman died in early May.

* Colleen Uechi can be reached at cuechi@mauinews.com.

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