Health experts urge revelers to keep July 4 gatherings small


As families look ahead to celebrate the Fourth of July, medical experts say it’s best to keep the gatherings small. They say letting your guard down now can put the health of your loved ones at risk.

July 4 is traditionally a time for barbecues and picnics at the beach, and being outdoors is generally safer than being inside. But health experts say don’t be lulled into thinking that you don’t need to take all the usual precautions.

“People use the same restroom, they use the same sink. They may use or pass the same utensils and things, so there is definitely risk of transmission. So I think the best advice is keep the gatherings smaller,” said Dr. James Ireland, community physician.

He says it’s very tempting for everyone to throw caution to the wind with Hawaii’s infection rate still one of the lowest in the country. But the coronavirus is still out there and community spread is always a possibility. So gatherings can lead to clusters of cases.

“As we’ve learned, one incident can result in 10 or 15 exposures, such as the recent incident with the house church and the funeral services we heard about. So people still need to be careful,” said Ireland.

He suggests not having more than 10 people whether you’re inside or outside. And celebrate mainly with family and close friends who you’ve already been spending time with. If there are people outside that category, try to keep your social distance and wear masks as much as possible. It’s less than ideal but unfortunately the risk of infection is still out there.

“Now is not quite the time to throw all those to the wind and we regress, definitely want to keep that message out there and I think for this weekend, the message, in my opinion, is keep the gatherings small,” said Ireland.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green says this is an important time to keep the infection rates low. And if people wear masks when they’re in close contact with others this weekend, that can go a long way in keeping the numbers down.

“I really am very worried that people may not wear their masks religiously enough. So please wear your mask,” said Green.

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