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Medical experts say COVID’s spread among Hawaii’s kids likely ‘understated’

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 5:33 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 24, 2021 at 7:52 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Based on recent testing on the Big Island, there’s concern the spread of COVID among Hawaii’s youngest residents is being understated.

As of last week, the state Department of Education reported 430 cases over two weeks in schools across the state but said there was no spread within the schools.

Dr. Scott Miscovich, who has helped lead Hawaii’s testing effort, doubts that.

“I do believe that the spread through the schools is very understated.” Miscovich said.

“They’re only 3 feet away. You combine that with masks that are tilted open on the sides and they sit there in one class for 40 minutes or 45 minutes, we recommend an entire class get tested if one child in that class is positive.”

Miscovich’s Premier Medical Group conducted mass testing on the Big island over the weekend.

Officials conducted more than 500 tests and among minors, they discovered a third of those tested were positive.

Dr. Dang-Akiona, who ran the testing, says families are not taking minor symptoms seriously enough.

“You cannot tell the difference between just a normal hanabata kid and COVID anymore, so they’re (parents) like ‘oh no, his nose is always running’ and we swab him and they’re positive,” Dang-Akiona said. “It’s one of those, it’s hard and so we’re just encouraging people to be a little bit more makaala.

“We gotta be a lot more alert now.”

According to the Department of Health, in late June the state saw an average of 18 cases among kids for every 100,000 residents and now the number is nearly 15 times higher than that.

Kids under 12 can’t be vaccinated so schools say mask wearing, hygiene, keeping students in separate groups and good ventilation are all part of the strategy that they say is working.

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