Maui Demonstration Seeking Medical Freedom Attracts Hundreds for 2nd Time This Week
August 13, 2021, 7:53 PM HST
* Updated August 16, 11:51 AM
For the second time this week, hundreds of people gathered for a demonstration in Wailuku advocating for medical freedoms amid vaccination mandates. An estimated 500 people attended Monday’s demonstration, and participants in today’s event say that number was even higher today. One participant placed attendance at 750 over the course of today’s 2.5 hour event.
This time, participants say they demanded a reversal of the mandates for participation in high school sports. On Wednesday, Aug. 4, the state Department of Education announced all student-athletes, athletic staff and volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 24, 2021, to participate in school-sanctioned athletic activities for the 2021-22 school year.
The message relayed by demonstrators today remained consistent with previous demonstrations, with participants waving signs that read: “My health, my choice,” “Free the children,” “Protect and serve, not inject and serve,” “Anti-vax 2 da max,” and “Our keiki, our choice.”
Maui police tell us there were no arrests or citations issued today at this morning’s demonstration, and a department spokesperson said “there were no issues as well.”
For those asserting the right to gather, Governor David Ige continued to encourage physical distancing saying, “The CDC guidelines make it clear that wearing masks and physical distancing are two of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
“If I could talk with the organizers of the protest, I would certainly encourage them to ensure that they maintain physical distance, that they wear their masks, even though they are outdoors, because they are gathering in the numbers that they are. I certainly would encourage them to wear their masks,” Gov. Ige said during a press briefing on Friday that was focused on the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in Hawaiʻi amid a rise in the Delta variant.
When asked if a spike in cases is anticipated as a result of the demonstrations, Sandy Baz, Managing Director for the County of Maui today said:
“Anytime there’s large get-togethers, there’s an opportunity for spread. The demonstrations were large groups of people that were unmasked. Many of them self-notified that they haven’t been vaccinated. So, there is a possibility of an increased amount of cases because of those demonstrations.”
Today’s COVID Updates:
Case Counts, Hospitalizations, National Guard Use, and Public School Infections
The demonstration comes as the state Department of Health reported an additional *1,167 COVID-19 cases on Friday, including 115 in Maui County, with state health officials calling the situation a crisis. In Maui County, there is an average of 57 new cases with a 6.5% test positivity rate over 14 days.
Maui Health officials say today, health care workers are caring for 30 COVID-19 positive patients in Maui County, with four in intensive care and three on a ventilator. All but one of these patients is unvaccinated. The hospital also announced that in collaboration with the Healthcare Association of Hawaiʻi, it will be welcoming several rapid response nurses and respiratory therapists to assist in caring for COVID-19 patients.
County officials say they are also meeting with the National Guard on a regular basis and the state Department of Health has requested that they be used to increase capacity in contact tracing.
Meantime, schools and complex areas across the state also reported a total of 325 confirmed cases in Hawaiʻi public schools between Aug. 7 and 13, the first full week of learning at most campuses. Excluding cases where the infected individual was neither on campus this week nor whose case required any disinfection of HIDOE facilities, there were 50 student cases — 35 at elementary schools and 15 at secondary schools — and 20 staff cases. On Maui, there were 39 cases reported over the same period.