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Hawaii Governor announces school closures

Gov. David Ige of Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii now has seven positive cases of the new coronavirus, and Gov. David Ige announced Sunday that schools will be closed until March 30.

Schools were to be on spring break this week, but it’s been extended by a week to allow school leaders to prepare social distancing plans once children return, Ige said during a news conference.

“We are committed to having a safe, stable place for our children during this time,” Ige said.

Ige also outlined the newest three cases of the virus. All three are travel related with exposure outside the state of Hawaii, he said.

“We do believe that community spread of the virus has not occurred yet,” he said.

The first case is a resident of Oahu who traveled to Colorado from Feb. 29 to March 7. The person and that person’s family have been advised to stay home in self-quarantine, Ige said.

A child in the home has tested negative for COVID-19. The child’s pre-school has been informed, but Ige said there is no risk to the other children. The child will not return to the pre-school until the quarantine is over.

The second case involves a flight attendant on Maui. The attendant, believed to be a Canadian citizen, was exposed to a confirmed case in Germany on March 4. The person’s last flight was March 8, and the person began exhibiting symptoms the following day. Ige said risk to passengers on the attendant’s last flight is low. The attendant self-isolated at the Royal Lahaina Resort before being moved to an isolation unit at a Lahaina clinic.

The third case is another Oahu resident who returned from a trip to Florida with the entire family. This person is self-isolating in a bedroom with a dedicated private bath at their home. Other family members have been advised to remain in home quarantine away from the sick individual.

Ige said the belief is that the virus has spread across the United States, and he encouraged Hawaii residents to cancel any non-essential travel.

“If you have symptoms and are feeling ill, contact your health provider,” he said.

He encouraged people to stay home if they are sick and to incorporate social distancing.

On Saturday, authorities confirmed that an adult couple from Indiana tested positive after vacationing on Maui and Kauai for nearly two weeks. Ige said the couple had had close contact with someone on the mainland before traveling to Hawaii. They exhibited symptoms of the virus and visited urgent care facilities on both islands before eventually going to a hospital in Lihue. The couple are improving, but are being kept in isolation on Kauai.

Three healthcare workers, one on Kauai and two on Maui, who treated the couple were self-isolating because they were not wearing appropriate personal protective devices, Ige said.

The state’s first case was confirmed in a man who had been on a cruise ship from California to Mexico that had other infected passengers. The man fell ill after flying home to Oahu from Mexico after the Grand Princess cruise that was scheduled Feb. 11-21.

The state’s second case was an elderly man who became ill while he was in Washington state. He was tested upon his return to Hawaii.

The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover. More than 80,000 people in China have been diagnosed with the coronavirus. More than 65,000 have recovered.