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Hawaii officials urge COVID caution heading into the holidays

Despite COVID-19 cases rising yet again on Oahu, Lt. Gov. Josh Green says no changes to virus safety protocols are currently planned for the holidays.

During a livestreamed interview Wednesday, Green acknowledged that case numbers are escalating primarily on that island, which had 230 out of the 282 new reported cases. By comparison, five new cases were reported Wednesday on Hawaii Island.

Green said some officials are discussing the possibility of reducing the size of allowable gatherings, at least on Oahu. But he added that he thinks it is still premature, because the hospitalization rate has remained static.

Green attributed this to the particular characteristics of the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19.

“Right now, essentially, the omicron situation and the delta situation is … (they’re) about twice as infectious, and about half as bad,” Green said. “So, we’re seeing more cases, but fewer hospitalizations, and that’s something we can manage quite well.”

Furthermore, Green said, one of the most vulnerable populations in the state — the elderly — are increasingly receiving booster shots that further decrease their odds of being infected and the severity of any potential infections.

“I think that the recommendation is for people to be personally responsible: Go get a booster,” Green said. “Go get a booster, and wear a mask when you’re indoors. If you do that, you’ll be totally fine. If you don’t do that, you’re going to catch COVID, very possibly, and be at risk to a degree.”

Green advised people to keep gathering sizes low during the holidays, and wear masks if fellow attendees have not received vaccination boosters.

Mayor Mitch Roth issued his own recommendations for the holidays Wednesday, advising residents to gather outdoors as much as possible, wear masks in group settings, have designated servers handle food, and maintain safe distance from each other. Gatherings are limited to 25 people if held indoors, and attendees should be mindful of those who might be immunocompromised.

“As we head into the holidays, we are encouraging folks to be mindful of the virus while spending quality time with family and friends,” Roth said in a statement. “There are proven ways for us to gather safely, and because of the hard work of our community, we have been able to do just that. By continuing our common-sense approach while maintaining sensitivity to the needs of others, we can mitigate the spread without jeopardizing the spirit of the holiday season.”

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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