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Even as COVID cases rise, large events like graduations, concerts move forward

Even as COVID cases rise, large events like graduations, concerts move forward

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – COVID cases are rising once again, but there are no government mandates on the horizon, even as more and more gatherings are happening toward the summer months.

“We’re not instituting any more measures,” said Amanda Johnson, general manager of Blue Note Hawaii. “It really is up to people if they want to wear a mask while they’re here. We understand.”

Blue Note Hawaii reopened in November of last year with performers behind plexiglass shields and with limited capacity. Those restrictions are gone, and masks are no longer required to attend an event or work there.

That’s not changing, even as COVID hospitalizations are also rising.

“If we get up to 100 patients in hospitals, that will start to cause us some concern,” Hilton Raethel, the head of the Hawaii Healthcare Association, said six days ago.

We’re getting very close. The association says hospitalizations due to COVID jumped from 68 last week Friday, to 93 on Monday. There were 91 hospitalizations on Wednesday.

Being vaccinated twice isn’t enough.

“With the new variants that we’re seeing, if you’ve only had two shots, you are at risk upwards of 70% of being hospitalized, and you could have very severe consequences,” said Dr. Scott Miscovich of Premier Medical Group.

High school graduations are also around the corner, and the Department of Education is leaving most of the decision-making up to each school.

“Schools have a flexibility to determine event specific details to maintain the health and safety of all attendees,” said Interim School Superintendent Keith Hayashi.

With no Aloha Stadium, Mililani High School’s seniors will have their commencement at the Stan Sheriff Center on the UH Manoa campus on Monday. Each graduate will be allowed eight guests.

Several other high schools that had used Aloha Stadium are also moving to the Stan Sheriff. And since its indoors, masks will be required by the DOE.

Another large gathering is planned Saturday morning, with a Christians United In Prayer event at the State Capitol. Organizers are expecting 500 people for the outdoor event, with no restrictions.

“Everything is by faith, so we just trust in God that everything that we do is by faith” said Event Coordinator Sandra Tilo Ulu.

Miscovich said it’s not just the gatherings. Those rising visitor numbers are also a factor in the latest surge, especially with masks optional on planes.

“The variants are coming here sooner, and the infectivity of different variants coming and spreading is sooner, likely because we’re such a melting pot with people coming from each direction,” he said.

Miscovich said he and other health experts believe the latest surge will last another six to eight weeks.

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