Remote Hawaii County Becomes Last In U.S. To Get The Coronavirus

Nearly a year after the first person to test positive for COVID-19 was identified in Washington state on Jan. 20, 2020, the coronavirus has found its way into every single county in the United States.

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins University data and state records, the last county to register a case of the coronavirus is also the smallest in America.

Kalawao County, a region on the northern coast of Hawaii’s Moloka’i island with a population of less than 100, reported its first case in December of last year ― an asymptotic resident who reportedly contracted the virus while outside of the area.

Extraordinarily remote, Kalawao is separated from neighboring areas by high cliffs that are usually traversed by mules, and was described by local pastor Patrick Killilea to the Journal as “a place of isolation.”

The county’s only settlement, Kalaupapa, was originally established in the 1860s and was used until 1969 to quarantine individuals with leprosy, which is now known as Hansen’s disease. The majority of its residents are health care workers, church employees or members of the National Park Service, and five of the patients originally sent to Kalawao to quarantine for Hansen’s disease remain in the area. All are at high risk for COVID-19, with an average age of 86.

Despite the one positive case, COVID-19 has yet to spread in Kalawao. The resident who tested positive along with three others who were on the same flight immediately went into quarantine.

Other counties off the beaten track that were highlighted in the Journal’s report include southeast Alaska’s Skagway ― a tourist stop for cruise ships, which is technically classified as a borough and has about 1,000 residents ― and Montana’s Petroleum County, which has a population of about 500 and is primarily known for its cattle and sheep ranches.

Read the full Wall Street Journal report here.

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