State reports 20 COVID clusters linked to restaurants, food service employees

File photo of COVID-19 testing in Hawaii.
File photo of COVID-19 testing in Hawaii.(Hawaii News Now/file)
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 5:29 PM HST|Updated: Sep. 2, 2021 at 5:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As COVID cases continue to surge in Hawaii, the state Department of Health said it is seeing an increase in clusters among restaurants and bars.

The state reported Thursday there have been 70 COVID clusters in the last two weeks with 20 of them related to restaurants and food service workers.

Between July and August, the DOH said two COVID clusters at a popular Oahu restaurant chain sparked 40 infections.

Officials said one of the restaurants reported 24 of its exposed employees tested positive while 12 employees were infected at the other restaurant. These clusters led to infections among unvaccinated household members in four separate secondary cases.

DOH said both restaurants were located in high-risk areas, one in a tourist area and the other in a community with low vaccination rates. Furthermore, officials said there was low vaccination rates among staff at both locations.

The Health Department also identified a separate cluster of seven cases among fully vaccinated customers who sang at an Oahu karaoke bar with no masks or social distancing.

In August, the state said it also investigated a cluster of seven COVID cases linked to food service delivery to an Oahu restaurant. Officials said a food supplier dropped off a delivery while infectious, spreading the virus to the restaurant’s employees. Five of the 21 workers tested positive.

Health officials said food service workers are more susceptible to the virus due to small work environments, poor ventilation and low vaccination rates among employees.

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