HONOLULU (KHON2) — Those who were planning on attending a large party or get-together for the holidays, may want to rethink those plans. The governor is warning everyone to avoid large gatherings due to the recent surge in COVID cases.
Christmas is just a week away. As people prepare to spend time with family and friends, they must be sure to spread holiday cheer and not COVID. Taking a quick test before gatherings can provide a little peace of mind and protect loved ones.
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Gov. David Ige said they are keeping a close eye on hospitalizations after coronavirus cases hit 797 on Friday, Dec. 17 — the highest the count has been in months. He is not limiting gathering sizes or tightening restrictions yet. Instead, he is urging people to use their best judgment.
“It’s time to reassess your plans so you can celebrate with your loved ones safely during this holiday season,” Ige said during a Friday afternoon press conference.
Dr. Alan Wu, of Doctors of Waikiki, said families with high-risk kupuna or keiki who are not eligible for vaccinations should reconsider gathering with others outside of their bubble.
Wu also advised everyone to be extra careful if they are traveling or hosting visitors from out of town.
Dr. Douglas Kwock, Hawaii Pacific Health vice president of Medical Affairs, said people should approach travel plans thoughtfully because of the omicron variant.
“We do know that that the omicron variant is much more transmissible. So, we anticipate that it’s gonna spread much quicker than delta did across the country,” Kwock warned.
For those who have not yet gotten vaccinated, Kwock said to do it now.
“And if you’ve been vaccinated, and it’s been at least six months since your second shot, then get your booster shot,” Kwock urged.
A person can still get and spread COVID if they are vaccinated, but it may lessen the severity.
Both Kwock and Wu want to remind everyone to celebrate outdoors when possible, mask up and practice good hand hygiene.
“While I understand that people are getting tired of mitigation and getting tired of the virus, it is still with us,” Kwock said. “And it’s still causing infection that can kill us or cause severe illness.”
Pearl City resident Paul Mauricio said it has been more than a year and a half since his whole family got together. Even though they are all vaccinated, he said they are going to wait a little bit longer to gather because of the current surge.
Dr. Libby Char, Hawaii Department of Health director, said celebrating Christmas 2021 is all about making smart choices.
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“Celebrate the holidays, but celebrate them responsibly,” Char said. “And spend time with your family and friends and do so safely. You can very much control your risk of exposure to COVID, and you can limit whether or not you get sick if you do happen to get exposed.”