Doctors urge some protesters to self-isolate in the wake of large weekend gatherings

Doctors urge some protesters to self-isolate in the wake of large weekend gatherings
HPD estimated at least 2,000 people showed up at Magic Island/Ala Moana Beach Park for the march. (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Experts worry the combination of businesses reopening and mass protests could spur a new wave of infections nationally.

Already, 22 states are seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases.

Doctors say compared to the mainland, the viral load of COVID-19 in Hawaii is very low.

Officials at the state Department of Health reported just one new COVID-19 case on Oahu on Monday.

But they say the virus is still in the community, and that social distancing and mask wearing are recommended to prevent people from getting sick.

Dr. Jim Ireland said the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a protest in Hawaii is lower than big cities on the mainland. That said, he wants people to understand attending any type of large gathering comes with a certain level of risk.

Over the weekend, at least 10,000 people gathered at Ala Moana Park as part of nationwide Black Lives Matter protests. The Ala Moana gathering was the largest of several that happened around the state.

“If you didn’t have a mask on and you were close to people especially in crowds and they didn’t have masks on, the best advice would be to self quarantine for two weeks,” Ireland said.

The state had a similar message.

On Monday morning, Gov. David Ige asked protesters to self-isolate and to immediately get tested should they become sick.

In the meantime, Mayor Kirk Caldwell admitted Monday that seeing people gathered in large crowds makes him apprehensive.

“I am a little bit concerned to see what happens in the coming weeks," he said.

Ireland believes Hawaii is in much healthier place now than it was back in February and March.

But he says in order to maintain it, people need to keep up with habits like wearing masks, washing your hands and social distancing.

“I’m just hoping here because our levels are low we won’t see much,” said Ireland. “But I guess time will tell.”

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