Uptick in COVID-19 cluster related to Hawaii proms

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Officials are noticing an uptick in clusters associated with large school events that are happening just as prom season has begun for many schools.

The Hawaii State Department of Health had an investigation on outbreaks of COVID-19 and Influenza A in April that were associated with two high school proms on Oahu.

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DOH said the first investigation started after a school reported to the department that 37 students who attended the prom stated they were sick with common respiratory symptoms.

There were over 300 students and chaperones who attended the prom. Six attendees tested positive for coronavirus, said DOH.

Of the six that tested positive, one was unvaccinated, four had only completed their primary series and one was up to date on all vaccinations. There were four individuals that tested positive for Type A influenza, with one of them testing positive for both influenza and coronavirus.

Out of the 37 symptomatic individuals, 35 students said they received a COVID-19 test. However, the DOH believed that with limited influenza testing and home test reporting, the true number of infections could likely be higher than what was reported.

About 57% of the prom attendees had received a primary series of the coronavirus vaccine.

Attendees stated mask use and social distancing were not practiced or enforced at the event.

A COVID-19 Cluster Table with data provided by the Hawaii State Department of Health, updated as of May 6, 2022. (Hawaii Department of Health).

The second cluster had 16 COVID-19 cases at a high school prom with over 600 students and chaperones.

DOH said 10 attendees tested positive for coronavirus and three attendees were symptomatic and epidemiologically linked. Of the 13 primary cases, five had received a primary series only and five were up to date on all COVID vaccinations. The other three attendee’s vaccination status was unable to be determined.

Mask use was required indoors at the event except during food service.

Both schools required the attendees to be vaccinated with the primary series or submit a negative COVID-19 test. However, the DOH said that both proms being held indoors could have contributed to a higher risk of COVID transmission among the attendees.

Data collected by the Hawaii State Department of Health on May 6, 2022, on what percent of clusters was affected by a school-sanctioned event since April 1, 2022.

Since April 1 the state of Hawaii investigated 27 clusters associated with schools and school-sanctioned events. Of the reported clusters, 30% were related to high school proms.

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The DOH identified COVID-19 clusters when three or more confirmed or probable cases of coronavirus are linked to a particular site or event within one 14-day incubation period.

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