HONOLULU (KHON2) — Limiting social gatherings should help but some experts say it will not be enough to slow down the spread of the highly infectious delta variant.
Indoor gatherings are once again limited to 10 people, but an infectious disease expert pointed out that those ten people — who might be from different households — could still get infected and spread it to their families if they sit down and eat together without masks.
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“We need to go back to doing something similar to the bubbles that we were using last year, where you hang together with a limited number of people, primarily from your household and maybe a small additional group,” said Tim Brown, a senior research fellow at the East-West Center.
Brown added that the State should also go back to testing mainland travelers, especially locals returning home, 72 hours before their flight. There are now too many of them that said they plan to quarantine at home. It is not clear if they are actually doing that because it is not being enforced.
“We saw the same thing last year. There were real questions about the locals who went to the mainland and came back are actually quarantined or not. It becomes even more critical with delta because it is so much more contagious,” said Brown.
He added that the State and counties should also find a way to provide quarantine rooms. Officials said using hotel rooms is no longer an option with tourism booming again. Oahu has 64 rooms and dozens of people are on a waiting list.
“Given the contagiousness of delta, I would really prefer to see people quarantine outside the home if they possibly can, so they are not potentially risking exposing other family members,” said Brown.
He said Hawaii residents need to go back to emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask, whether or not they are vaccinated. Other health experts added that there needs to be a sense of urgency that was lost after the cases came down and the outdoor mask mandate was lifted.
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“The more people you’re around indoors for the longer period of time without people masking, the higher risk is. So anything you can do to decrease any of those factors in your life will help us all stop the spread of the disease,” said Dr. Janet Berreman, Kauai District Health Officer.