HONOLULU (KHON2) — All week, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) has said new COVID-19 cases statewide are from unvaccinated residents who are traveling, and unvaccinated people gathering while not wearing masks indoors.
“And we’re seeing unvaccinated adults infecting children who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated,” said state health department spokesperson Brooks Baehr.
The DOH said 27 of the state’s 132 cases reported on Monday were pediatric cases. The health department said 20% of new cases have been those under the age of 18.
“It is time for us who are eligible to be vaccinated to get vaccinated, and in doing so, we’re able to protect those who are not eligible to be vaccinated,” Baehr continued. “This is particularly important as we approach the beginning of a new school year.”
One pediatrician said it’s important to return to in-person learning, but everyone has to be willing to reduce the risk.
“Wearing masks appropriately over the nose and the mouth, you know, at all times and then being wary of being too close to others for prolonged periods of time,” said Dr. Melinda Ashton, Hawaii Pacific Health executive vice president, and pediatrician.
Doctors said children are unlikely to get severely ill, but the Delta variant should be a concern.
“It is very clear that this Delta variant does spread among children more easily than the original, just as it spreads among everybody more easily. So it’s just increasing the odds that we’ll see more kids,” she continued.
As for travel-related cases, health officials said unvaccinated residents should not be traveling to the U.S. mainland where cases are doubling, more particularly Las Vegas, where the Kauai Health Department has confirmed most of their cases are coming from as residents fly home.
“It is an absolute mistake to travel to the mainland and go to places like that if you’re not vaccinated,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green said. “It’s a big mistake because you will find yourself in indoor settings where there’ll be a lot of people with COVID.”
There are currently about 6,000 people in quarantine statewide; about 4,000 are residents who returned home without a pre-test or proof of vaccination, and about 2,000 are visitors in quarantine.
The state attorney general’s office says there are 12 agents making random compliance checks on Oahu daily, and there is now a dedicated e-mail for hotels on Oahu to notify agents of quarantine violators.
Doctors said several new COVID-19 patients were previously healthy with no underlying issues.
“This weekend, I had a very sweet woman, 51 years old,” said Lt Governor Green. “She came in positive for COVID. She caught it from her husband, and they caught it at a restaurant, and prior to that patient, I saw a 30-year-old, just under 30, who came in really sick. He caught it from friends who were also unvaccinated.”