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Harbor Lights COVID-19 Cluster Rises to 68

Harbor Lights Condominium Complex in Kahului, file photo by Wendy Osher.

The COVID-19 case count at the Harbor Lights condominium complex in Kahului has risen to 68 confirmed, according to an update provided by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino.

The state Department of Health contact tracing team identified holiday choir practice as the probable event that sparked the cluster. 

County officials say more than 260 tests were conducted on site on Christmas Eve, about one-fifth of the resident population at the complex. Another 20 tests were conducted by the Hawaiʻi National Guard on those in isolation, according to an update provided by the county today.

“We please ask the public to not stigmatize any individuals from Harbor Lights,” said Maui County Deputy Managing Director Josiah Nishita. “We’re all one community. We’re all in this together… COVID-19 can really hit anywhere at any time.”

Nishita said the County has been in contact with the state Department of Health and Governor Ige to discuss additional mitigation strategies for the condominium complex.

“We’ve already been working with the Maui Food Bank; the Department of Health has been working with Feed My Sheep and local Churches to help assist those in isolation and those living in Harbor Lights currently,” said Nishita.

“Unfortunately just due to the nature of the disease and how contagious it is, we expect to see a continuing increase in case numbers from the Harbor Lights cluster. According to the Maui District Health Office, as long as the infections can be contained through isolation and quarantine, it should not be a cause for alarm for the wider community; however, December’s case count was very high and we will remain vigilant,” said Nishita.

Mayor Victorino noted that there were more than 415 cases in Maui County in December–the largest month on record. He said from March to September, there were 384 cases; and from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, there were 326 cases.

“Unequivocally, right now we have not exceed the threshold when it comes to first of all our health care capacity,” said Mayor Victorino. “Right now there are 13 cases in the hospital at this time, compared to last big surge we were up to 36 cases in the hospital at any given time.” 

None of the COVID patients at the Maui hospital are on ventilators. One COVID-19 patient is in the ICU and could be released in the next couple of days, according to Mayor Victorino.

“The decision to move into another phase or tier of the reopening depends upon the ICU capacity, positivity rate, and new case average per 100,000 over seven days. The county will continue to monitor these metrics for future decision making on any tiered changes,” said Nishita.

“Right now, our medical facilities are not being taxed,” said Mayor Victorino, who attributed the rising cases to a number of factors including clusters identified at Harbor Lights as well as at bars and restaurants; and community spread as returning residents come back from hot spots on the mainland.

He said we can expect to see a higher number of cases attributed to the holiday period, with residual numbers from Christmas, and beginning effects of other holiday celebrations.  

“I expect to see numbers to continue to be at the level they’ve been at, and start to go down probably in about 10 days. I see that as being a strong possibility,” said Mayor Victorino.

Current restrictions include a reduction in gathering size from 10 people down to 5 people, in order to keep gatherings smaller.  The rules also include the following:

  • Limiting bar and restaurant occupancy to no more than 30 percent of allowed interior occupancy; and
  • Requiring bars and restaurants to close by 10 p.m.

The rules went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 2, 2021 and remain in effect for approximately two weeks before a reassessment takes place in mid-January.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2021/01/04/harbor-lights-covid-19-cluster-rises-to-68/

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