HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) reported 972 new COVID cases on Sunday, Dec. 19.

Many health officials believe the state will hit 1,000 daily cases very soon and that large indoor gatherings and events are helping fuel the recent surge.

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Health officials have been saying omicron doubles every one-and-a-half to three days, and the state’s positivity rate is doing just that. On Thursday, Dec. 16, the positivity rate was 3.1%; as of Sunday, it was at 6.2%.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise as there have been 21 additional COVID patients admitted since Thursday, bringing the total number to 53 on Sunday.

The DOH is also investigating its second nightclub COVID cluster — the first was associated with Scarlet Honolulu nightclub for those who visited Dec. 4. On Sunday, the DOH said 30 COVID cases were tied to the Republik nightclub from people who attended on Dec. 10 and Dec. 11. Roughly 2,000 people who attended either of those nights are urged to get tested whether they are vaccinated or not.

KHON2 spoke to some attendees who tested positive, one of which was boostered. He said the only unvaccinated person in his group had COVID-symptoms.

Many experts believe state and county leaders need to put a limit on gatherings and other activities soon or the state will see cases skyrocket even more.

“We are now committed to 1,500 to 2,000 [cases] in a very short period of time unless we take measures that will stop this immediately,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich, Premier Medical Group founder.

“We don’t have till, you know, end of next week or two, or after Christmas or after New Year’s. This is an emergency.”

Dr. Scott Miscovich, Premier Medical Group founder

Omicron has not yet been detected on the neighbor islands, but Hawaii and Maui are starting to see an uptick in coronavirus cases.

“There is a concern on the Big Island for what’s going on in Oahu. We’re just a 45-minute plane ride over,” said Elena Cabatu of Hilo Medical Center.

Cabatu stated that the hospital is preparing now that more people are traveling for Christmas and kids are out of school.

“Our hospital is upwards of 96% vaccinated and just a little bit more than half of our staff is boostered,” she explained.

She added that hospitals across the state are full of non-COVID patients, and nearly all hospitals are dealing with a nursing shortage too.

“People just get sicker during the holidays and couple that with an upcoming surge, and we’re going to be in a tight spot here,” Cabatu continued.

Starting Monday, Dec. 20, Hilo Medical Center will push for the rest of their employees to get their booster shots, and they are giving away nearly 3,000 at-home COVID test kits to the community at Hilo Civic.

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Health officials are urging people to take this uptick seriously.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say it’s been alarming,” Cabatu said. “It has been and we just need people to double down on their efforts to stay safe.”