A coronavirus outbreak tied to a Maui church and its congregation has resulted in at least 55 positive cases and prompted the state Department of Health to warn the general public of the "imminent risk."
The outbreak has affected people from ages 10 to 77 and the cluster has nearly doubled in the past 10 days, the department said. The virus also spread from the church to a school and a workplace.
Officials said they encouraged the Kahului church to cancel its upcoming in-person events until the outbreak is contained.
In a statement provided to Hawai‘i Public Radio, the church said it canceled a children's Easter egg hunt but will move forward with its Easter Sunday morning service. The church also said it has postponed its Easter production "Indestructible Life" to April 25 and 26.
"Currently there are 33 active cases among the thousands that attend King's Cathedral and Chapels in Maui County," the church said Wednesday. "We have always been concerned about the health of the people of Maui County and we believe in God's desire and power to heal people."
The church appeared to cite increased tourism as a factor in the outbreak saying, "Just recently as tourism has come alive, for which we are very thankful, we have noted a rise of covid among our congregation."
The health department said coronavirus cases associated with the church were first identified as a cluster on March 7.
"DOH first met with church representatives to recommend containment measures including isolation, quarantine, and advising a switch to virtual services and other prevention measures on March 10," the department said. "However, further transmission was subsequently detected 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. “Based on the findings of our investigative team, we believe disclosure is warranted to prevent further transmission of the disease.”
State health officials asked anyone who attended any events in the last 14 days at King's Cathedral to get tested for COVID-19. They should also monitor themselves for symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat, and loss of taste or smell.
The department said case counts on Maui have risen, so it is critically important that people wear masks, avoid crowds, maintain physical distance, and wash hands regularly.