Molokai Death Marks First for COVID
By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor
Each year for Valentine’s Day, Pilipo Solatorio of Halawa Valley would write a love letter to his wife, Dianna, in The Molokai Dispatch for their wedding anniversary. Married 58 years, Dianna passed away two weeks ago at Queen’s Medical Center on Oahu after contracting COVID-19. Now, her family is begging the community to take the virus seriously.
“It was devastating. To hear him cry, and for him to look at you and ask, ‘Can I just kiss her one last time?’ and it was hard for me to tell him ‘you can’t, you know, you can’t touch her.’ I wouldn’t want to wish that on anybody,” daughter Lei Dudoit told KHON2 News of her dad seeing his wife for the last time.
The family told their story to KHON2, where son Greg Solatorio’s wife, Jenn Boneza, is a reporter.
Dianna Solatorio was vaccinated but had several underlying health concerns. She tested positive for COVID on Aug. 12. She was flown to Oahu and due to COVID policies, her family couldn’t visit her in the hospital. After she took a turn for the worse a week later, her family was allowed to see her, they told KHON2. Minutes after landing on Oahu, they got the call she had passed away.
Her passing marks the first death due to COVID from Molokai.
“Everyone needs to be aware that COVID is real, it is real,” said Dudoit. “It will take your loved ones from you,you know, whether they’re healthy or not healthy.”
Dianna was known for her generosity, love of family, her cooking and her warmth. Originally from Indiana, she moved to Molokai with the love of her life, where they raised their family and lived in Halawa.
“How can I ever forget a very beautiful young lady standing and looking at me right in my eyes with a beautiful smile,” wrote Pilipo Solatorio in the Dispatch of his wedding day, for their anniversary in 2018. “Now 55 years later, you are still my very beautiful Valentine sweetheart and wife. Thank you so very much for helping me and making me the husband I am. You are right, I am the head of the household but you are the neck. Without your neck to hold my head up we wouldn’t be celebrating this 55th Valentine’s Day. I just want you to know that I have always loved you and I thank God for blessing me with a wife from heaven.”
Molokai has had 36 positive COVID cases in the last 14 days, as of Sunday. After an all-time record high case count for the island two weeks ago, Molokai logged seven new cases last week, with a 5.5 percent positivity rate.
“I used to think COVID wasn’t serious, but now, losing a parent you kind of look at it very differently,” Greg Solatorio said. “Wearing masks and all of this kind of stuff and social distancing is very important. I know it’s uncomfortable, and a lot of people don’t like it, but, when it’s to do with your community, your town or your island, it’s not about us anymore. It’s about the safety for everybody.”