Holiday gatherings may need to downsize once again this year due to ongoing COVID pandemic

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says this holiday season, opting for those virtual family celebrations are the safest bet, but celebrating with household members in outdoor settings is also low risk. Masking up despite vaccination status is also the way to go.

Hawaii residents are already mapping out their holiday plans.

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“Oh man, I never thought of Thanksgiving at the beach, but that sounds like a good option,” said Lima Esene Jr., a Honolulu resident. “Mostly going to spend our time here, go to the beach as often as we can, just enjoy the beautiful outdoor.”

“We are thinking of maybe a trip this holiday season,” said Wayne Esptein, a Kaneohe resident. “We just came back from a trip from the east coast, so we’re quite alright with it.”

The CDC says for those traveling during the holidays, they should wait until they’re fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, epidemiologist Dr. Thomas Lee suggests bringing back pre-travel testing for all travelers to avoid a holiday COVID surge.

“We have to consider for Hawaii as our location, and we get a ton of visitors, and then Japan just kind of loosened their travel and entry restrictions as well,” said Dr. Thomas Lee, UH assistant epidemiology professor. “So it’s not just the policy locally or nationally, but we have to be aware of what’s happening across the Pacific, and those policies significantly impact future disease trends.”

Attending in-person parties increases the risk of catching or spreading COVID, according to the CDC. For those hosting gatherings indoors, consider installing a window fan for ventilation. However, Dr. Lee says Hawaii has the best circumstances to take the celebration outdoors.

“Hawaii, luckily, is in a much better place per the CDC guidance to gather outdoors to have good ventilation because of our year-round tropical climate and the humidity, as we know that the virus spreads easier in drier environments where it can be aerosolized,” Dr. Lee said.

Although this holiday season may be downsized once again, Hawaii residents say it’s worth it if it means everyone is safe.

“For me, I think it’s a good thing. I know it’s going to be hard to adjust, but we got to think of the good for the overall public,” Esene said.

Find more COVID-19 news: cases, vaccinations on our Coronavirus News page

The Hawaii Pandemic Applied Modeling Work group is working on their Halloween forecast. They hope to release that sometime next week.

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