Actor Daniel Dae Kim Shares His Story of Testing Positive for COVID-19 in Honolulu
He urges people to take the disease seriously, praises medical staff and workers, cautions against prejudice. And he describes his recovery.
PHOTO: DIANE LEE
Actor Daniel Dae Kim’s Instagram post on Thursday announced that he was one of the first 16 people in Hawai‘i who tested positive for COVID-19 came as a sobering note but also a reminder that the disease doesn’t discriminate on who it touches: rich, famous, older, younger. That we should take it seriously. And perhaps most importantly, that the majority of people who get the disease do recover.
Kim broke his own news in a video he posted on social media from his Hawai‘i home on Instagram, rather than releasing it through media or a publicist. After 24 hours, the video had half a million views. The case count continues to climb daily as do the views on his video.
In the video the actor, best known in recent years from his earlier role in the Hawai‘i Five-0 reboot, is wearing a blue T-shirt with ALOHA on the front, hasn’t shaved and looks a little rumpled. Since he left the hit CBS show, he’s continued to act on stage, in films and on television. In his video post, he explains right off that he’s getting better, talks about the precautions he’s taken, praises the response of doctors and community members, and jokes about his experience and his appearance: “Call it the quarantine chic.”
Kim explains that he believes he got the disease while shooting for the TV show New Amsterdam, where he—wait for it—was playing the role of a doctor who gets recruited to help during a pandemic.
He says he was flying home from New York to Hawai‘i on Sunday, March 8, when he started feeling a scratchy throat, which isn’t the normal way he starts a cold. He went home, isolated himself from his family in their house, and kept in touch with his doctor when he got worse, with body aches and chest congestion.
Kim says the doctor told him to get tested so he went to a drive-thru clinic, then “went straight home,” mostly staying in bed and resting. He says he got the test results on March 18 and remained isolated in a separate part of the house from his family: “I never went to a hospital.”
He posted the video a day later. He says the doctor prescribed medication and this week he started feeling better: “Even though I'm not 100%, I’m pretty close.”
Kim says he debated going public with the news. He’s seen blowback against celebrities as people raise questions about whether mildly ill famous people are getting access to scarce tests because of their privilege. Kim said, “I never asked for or expected special treatment from anyone. I believe that health care for all is a right, not a privilege. My family all got tested because of my positive result. They are all negative.”
He thanked his doctors, all medical staffers, emergency workers, everyone staying on the job now, including those at grocery stores providing vital services for the community.
And he bristled at President Donald Trump and other politicians who have labeled it “the Chinese virus.” He added, “Yes, I have coronavirus, but I did not get it in China. I got it in New York City.” He says he’s worried about reports that attitude is encouraging prejudice against anyone who is Asian and even random attacks. “Name-calling gets us nowhere.”
Kim encouraged everyone to keep supporting the local businesses that you rely on in good times, to order takeout from restaurants and support local whenever possible, pointing out that they are the same ones that are in danger of disappearing during times like these when our normal lives have been upended.
Kim ended with a smile, a shaka and by chiding people who are still queuing up for and hoarding toilet paper: “Please be safe, please be healthy and, seriously, how dirty are you down there?”