Health officials investigating several clusters


HONOLUU (KHON2) — The State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating two separate gym clusters and two worship gatherings that have led to 56 COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.

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According to Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green, 63 of the Oahu cases came from the Halawa Correctional Facility.

“So, the number is closer to 130, just for the society at large, and we’re continuing to wrestle with cases, they’re still community spread,” he said.

The DOH is currently investigating gym and religious service clusters that resulted in 56 cases over a two-week period.

One gym cluster involved multiple symptomatic people in a high-intensity group exercise, according to the DOH.

Investigators said there was inconsistent mask-wearing and social distancing was not regularly enforced.

Seven cases were linked to the Oahu gym and one household contact also tested positive for COVID-19.

“This wasn’t like a sick person workout party,” explained Dr. Emily Roberson, DOH Disease Investigation Branch Chief. “This is more of a situation where we had people with mild symptoms.”

Health officials said there was also a gym cluster on Hawaii Island involving an individual who participated in a workout class the day before they felt symptoms.

Investigators said masks were not worn and social distancing was not followed.

Two instructors and two class participants have tested positive since, as well as two household contacts who did not attend the class.

Dr. Roberson said people should stay at home if they feel they are coming down with something and should consider working out outside.

Lt. Gov. Green said people who do intense cardio or workouts within a gym should wear a mask and social distance.

“That’s the only way that these industries can stay open without spread,” he said.

The DOH also said 31 cases were directly linked to worship clusters and 10 additional people — who did not attend the services — also tested positive.

“We’ve seen some people let their guard down, and that’s when we get these clusters,” Green said.

The construction and industrial industry have reported several clusters since the beginning of November. Dr. Roberson said people are diligent about mask-wearing and washing their hands, but once they get off the clock their guards could be let down.

“When they’re taking lunch break, or smoke breaks, or pau hana, they take the mask off, and they hang out with their co-workers,” she explained. “They are just kind of relaxing their practices in ways that make transmission possible.”

Health officials are warning people not to let their guards down, even with the vaccine expected to be distributed by the end of December.

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