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State asks Maui church to stop in-person services after COVID-19 cluster spreads to school, workplace

State health officials today urged a Maui church to cancel all upcoming in-person events and offer virtual services until a large cluster of COVID-19 cases is contained.

The Hawaii Department of Health says it “encouraged” King’s Cathedral in Kahului to do so because of the imminent health threat posed by the cluster, which has grown to 50 cases since it was first identified on March 7.

Those infected range in age from 10 to 77, according to health officials, and COVID-19 transmission has spread from the church to a school and a workplace. The DOH is concerned that more spillover cases will threaten the greater community.

Health officials say people who attended events hosted by King’s Cathedral and Chapels in the past 14 days should get tested for COVID-19, and closely monitor themselves for symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat or loss of taste or smell.

If symptoms develop, they are advised to self-quarantine and seek medical consultation.

The state Health Department first met with church representatives on March 10 to recommend containment measures including isolation, quarantine, and a switch to virtual services, along with other prevention measures.

However, officials later found further transmission related to ongoing in-person services, a youth conference, and other gatherings.

“DOH does not disclose specific cluster locations unless there is an imminent risk to public health,” said Acting State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble in a news release. “Based on the findings of our investigative team, we believe disclosure is warranted to prevent further transmission of the disease.”

News of the cluster comes as case counts on Maui and statewide continue to rise.

Health officials remind people that it is critically important to keep wearing masks, maintain physical distance, avoid crowds, and wash ones’ hands regularly.

Officials said anyone who believes they may have been exposed or has attended a King’s Cathedral and Chapel function in the past two weeks can schedule a COVID-19 test by registering at minitmed.com/pre-register-maui-covid-19.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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