The COVID-19 cluster report reveals how circumstances are spreading throughout the Maui Church, retailers in Hawaii, and the tourism trade
The latest cluster report from the Ministry of Health shows how the coronavirus spread among four retail sellers in two weeks.
Of four COVID-19 cases detected among sellers in a retail store, the department said three were discovered within days of each other. After one tested positive for the coronavirus, two were tested immediately, and a fourth tested positive 10 days later in quarantine.
The workers who were not vaccinated at the time of exposure reported close contact with each other, including hugs, while working.
Health officials are reminding the public that the incubation period for COVID-19, or the time it takes to develop symptoms after exposure, can be up to 14 days.
The report, released on Thursday, reviews the COVID-19 clusters studied over the past two weeks and shows an alarming increase in certain settings. These include educational institutions, social gatherings, caterers, travel, lodging, and tourism, and places of worship in Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii.
In all three districts, clusters related to the educational environment were identified, a total of 105 cases.
The state health department reported a new coronavirus-related death and 98 new infections across the state on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 474 deaths and 31,171 cases since the pandemic began.
The death was of a Maui woman in her seventies with underlying illnesses who had been hospitalized.
Among the new cases of infection reported on Friday were 67 in Oahu, 17 in Maui, three in Hawaii and 11 residents who were diagnosed with an exceptional case. Officials have removed and re-categorized some cases based on updated information.
A total of 1,027,849 vaccines were given based on preliminary numbers reported on Friday. This is an increase of nearly 20,000 from Thursday.
On Monday, the state will open vaccination eligibility to all residents 16 years of age and older on Oahu, as is already the case in the counties of Kauai, Maui and Hawaii.
Tina Yamaki, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, said vaccination efforts are going well since the entitlement opened to all retail workers on April 5th. However, she would like all categories of retail workers to have access to vaccines sooner.
There are more than 165,000 retail jobs in Hawaii, according to the National Retail Federation.
“We deal with the public every day,” she said. “Especially when they opened it up to hotel workers, restaurants and bars, we wondered why there is no retail because we work with the public every day.”
It will also help having vaccination eligibility open until the age of 16 and Monday, she said, as many students also work part-time in retail outlets.
Here’s a closer look by county:
The highest number of cases, 26, arose from two clusters at social gatherings.
Two clusters resulted in 20 cases related to an educational setting. Another two clusters came from restaurants, resulting in 12 cases. There were also the four cluster-related cases among retail sellers who were presumably classified as “others”.
On Maui, seven clusters generated 93 cases from the travel, accommodation, and tourism industries.
The cluster in King’s Cathedral & Chapels on Maui, which the health department previously described as an “immediate health threat,” has grown from 77 to 90 cases, according to the cluster report.
In a press release on Friday, King’s Cathedral said that statement was “obviously wrong” and that the Church has only three active cases to date in two of 24 wards.
“The cathedral and the king’s chapels clean and sanitize between each service, keep the pews 6 feet apart, provide masks for parishioners at the door, and have multiple hand sanitizing stations,” the church said in the press release. “We spend time training our team in dealing with COVID-related situations to ensure community members are comfortable joining our services.”
Another six clusters in the educational environment resulted in 48 cases, two for food providers with 34 cases and two for restaurants with seven cases.
The Maui correctional facility cluster has generated 100 cases, but the health department said Thursday the inmate population is free of active cases.
Hawaii County, which has reported few to no clusters in the past few weeks, now has three: one related to an educational institution that has seen 37 coronavirus cases, and additional clusters of social gatherings and places of worship that total 20 cases surrender.