Maui’s Christmas Eve COVID-19 Count Linked to Community Spread and Social Gatherings
Today the Hawaiʻi Department of Health confirmed 33 COVID-19 infections for Maui County, but 13 cases were previously investigated and contacts were notified over the past few weeks.
The cases were recently confirmed and added to Maui County’s case total today, the Maui District Health Office told the County of Maui.
According to Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang, many of the 20 new cases are connected to community spread though social gatherings as well as “bar-like behavior,” which he described as prolonged periods of eating, drinking and conversing without mask-wearing or social distancing.
According to medical advisers, Maui County’s positivity rate has remained under 2 percent for quite some time, so the County continues under the “Act with Care” management designation.
Metrics that prompt a change in designation include positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average, number of active cases, and Intensive Care Unit capacity at hospitals.
Mayor Michael Victorino is continuing to closely monitor all of the metrics to ensure the health and safety of Maui County residents.
Since Oct. 22, at the peak of the Lānaʻi cluster, Maui County has successfully limited its new daily case numbers in the teens or below, but numbers have fluctuated since mid-November as testing has increased.
Today’s announcement of 33 confirmed cases comes two weeks after Gov. David Ige approved Mayor Victorino’s request for a temporary closure of bars and bar areas within restaurants until Dec. 26, 2020. According to Dr. Pang, closing bars successfully moderated community spread.
Mayor Victorino said that bar closures were not “punishment,” but a needed intervention to “halt a known source of infection that could have sparked uncontrolled spread.”
“After speaking with medical advisers, I am certain the bar closures prevented an explosion in the infection rate,” Mayor Victorino said. “With the gradual return of our visitor industry and residents going back to work, we expected some community spread, but some of the numbers we see today could have been prevented by people following public health guidelines more carefully. By wearing masks, keeping our physical distance and avoiding large gatherings, we protect our public health. We can also avert the economic damage of another shutdown.”
Even though Hawai’i recently launched its coronavirus vaccination program, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that not everyone will be able to be vaccinated right away. Until a vaccine is readily available, wearing face masks, remaining physically distant from others, frequent hand washing and avoiding social gatherings offer the best protection for all.
“During this final week of the holiday season, I ask the people of Maui County to continue to do the right thing,” added Mayor Victorino. “Please don’t host or attend any large New Year parties. Please keep your gatherings small and limited to members of your household. For those in small gatherings, please stay at one event. By following safe and healthy protocols, our residents and their families can enjoy a joyous holiday season.”