Honolulu — Hawaii officials said Tuesday a cluster of 12cases had been linked to two McDonald's locations in Kailua Kona, a town on the Big Island. The state Health Department said seven workers and five of their family members had tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials said they don't believe any customers were affected.
The eateries are in a mall and inside a Walmart. Both have been closed for a deep cleaning but their owner said workers had been wearing protective gear and following proper social distancing protocols to protect customers.
State health officials noted that the federal Food and Drug Administration hasn't found any instances of food or food packaging contributing to COVID-19's spread.
All the workers and relatives who tested positive are in quarantine and all who were exposed are self-isolating, officials said.
The McDonald's cluster accounts for one-third of the Big Island's 41 confirmed cases.
Hawaii has a recorded 517 cases of COVID-19, including nine new cases in the islands and four cases of Hawaii residents diagnosed out of state. This comes after the state had just five cases on Monday.
"That is an extraordinary, extraordinary achievement on your part," Lt. Gov. Josh Green said at a news briefing streamed online and broadcast on television.
"Your self-sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. Had we not sacrificed so much, by staying at home by not going to work, by sacrificing some of our economic opportunity - instead of having 517 cases, we would have had 5,000 or more cases. I can say that with absolute certainty," Green said.
Green and other officials urged the public not to become overconfident and to continue to obey Gov. David Ige's stay-at-home order, which is in effect through April 30.
Ige said he has begun talking with Hawaii's mayors and emergency managers about what might prompt a relaxation of social distancing measures. He said they are working with epidemiologists and other scientists to decide when would be the best time to ease up on the restrictions.
"We are very cognizant that if we take too quick action to reduce social distancing efforts that we will see a spike in the number of cases," Ige said. "So we want to be thoughtful."