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Hawaii health officials warn of clusters involving luaus, performing arts

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  • Hawaii Department of Health

    Hawaii Department of Health

The Hawaii Department of Health this week is investigating several COVID-19 clusters associated with a luau production company on Maui and performing arts center on Oahu.

Health officials in this week’s cluster report warned that singers and performing artists are in “high-risk environments” when they are indoors with poor air ventilation, lack of physical distancing, and inconsistent mask-wearing.

Officials said two dancers from the luau production who tested positive for COVID-19 transmitted the virus to others while doing their makeup unmasked, changing costumes, and spending more than 15 minutes in dressing areas.

They recommended that the production increase airflow in its dressing areas, and that dancers spend less time unmasked. No additional cases were reported after these changes were implemented and enforced, health officials said in the report, which reflects clusters under investigation in the past 14 days.

DOH also investigated another cluster on Oahu involving a performing arts center that resulted in 25 COVID-19 cases.

In this cluster, three adults infected with COVID-19 interacted with performing arts students, resulting in the infection of three dance students by two adults at two different dance sessions.

The third adult, a vocal instructor who taught at the center and at home, ended up infecting seven out of nine students, according to the health department.

In all, 19 confirmed cases were associated with the vocal instructor, health officials said, due to inconsistent mask use by the instructor, and no mask use by students.

The instructor wore a mask during lessons, but took it off to demonstrate proper singing techniques. Students, on the other hand, did not wear a mask when singing.

Students that got infected ended up infecting their household members.

Officials said this cluster is consistent with other cases demonstrating the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be highly transmissible during singing.

All contacts of the vocal instructor who were fully vaccinated, however, tested negative for COVID-19.

On Oahu, the Health Department is also investigating a cluster involving restaurants that resulted in 38 coronavirus cases, along with three clusters at “other occupational settings,” a category that includes offices, retail establishments and first responders, resulting in 44 cases.

On Maui County, the highest number of cases, 98, has resulted from four clusters in the travel, lodging and tourism category.

Health officials are also investigating two clusters that resulted from a youth football tournament, the Pylon Mecca 7v7, held in Utah and Nevada in late April.

To date, there have been 17 cases on Oahu and 19 cases on Maui tied to the tournament.

On Kauai, officials are investigating two clusters from restaurants that resulted in 32 cases, so far.

On Hawaii County, only one cluster at an education setting is under investigation, with a total of five cases, according to the DOH.

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