Large gatherings linked to recent spike in case numbers


With another holiday weekend approaching, health officials are reminding residents that large gatherings without safe practices can lead to higher spikes in cases.

On Monday, Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell said he’s concerned with the recent spike of cases on Oahu.

“We do not live in a perfect world right now,” Mayor Caldwell said. “We still are in the midst of a pandemic. In fact, in the last four weeks of June we’ve seen more cases on the island of Oahu than we’ve seen for months and it’s returning to near-levels to what we saw at the height of this in March and April and it tells everyone here on this island that we’re not through this yet, and we cannot let our guard down.”

A recent follow-up survey by the state health department revealed more residents aren’t taking the same safety precautions as they did back in April.

The survey showed nearly 20% fewer residents are no longer staying away from people outside of their household, and there was a 14% decrease in residents who said they are avoiding large groups and gatherings.

On Sunday, the state said 17 people tested positive for Covid-19 after attending a funeral.

“Most of the cases we’ve had recently have involved clusters of disease and large gatherings for example on Sunday we had an increase in cases, 17 of those 27 cases were individuals who attended a celebration of life event for an individual,” explained Hawaii Department of Health director Dr. Bruce Anderson. “A couple people flew in from the Big Island for the event on Oahu, and today we’ve identified 17 people from that one event who are positive.”

“We’re of course continuing the investigation but that’s a significant number of cases associated with one single event, that was a very large family gathering for quite some time,” Dr. Anderson said.

He said other cases have been associated with beach picnics, and church gatherings at individual homes. “And other gatherings where it’s very difficult to consistently maintain social distancing,” Dr. Anderson said.

“We would recommend avoiding those types of events where we’ve seen most of our recent cases of illness,” he said.

He said people who celebrate the July 4 holiday this weekend should do so outside.

“That’s the highest risk situation where you’re indoors with large groups of people for long periods of time,” Dr. Anderson explained.

He recommended spacing out tables and chairs and sitting in groups with the same household.

He also said it’s important to remember to keep washing your hands and maintain a physical distance from others.

“You still need to maintain that physical distancing, that’s probably the most important single factor,” he said.  

Mayor Caldwell had this request to Honolulu residents this upcoming weekend:

“The virus is among us, it travels among us, and we need to make sure when we get together with friends, family, and loved ones that we do it with guidance.”

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