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Law school grads fear virus infection at bar exam

HONOLULU — Some recent law school graduates in Hawaii have said they fear being infected with the coronavirus during the state bar exam.

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The Hawaii bar exam is expected to proceed Sept. 9 and 10 with possibly up to 200 applicants confined to a single room for eight hours per day.

The Hawaii Supreme Court in March ordered the exam at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu to be rescheduled from its original dates of July 28 and 29.

The Hawaii State Judiciary said safety measures will be in place for the bar exam that applicants must pass to practice law. Typically 200 people take the exam, while the judiciary said 140 currently are scheduled for the September test.

The American Bar Association recommended this month that states postpone in-person exams. Some states have moved the tests online, with software problems occurring, while others have offered mail-in exams.

Aris Springs, who graduated in May from the University of Hawaii’s William S. Richardson School of Law, questioned the decision to hold the Hawaii bar exam in person in light of emergency health regulations limiting the number of people allowed to gather to small groups.

“Somehow we’re able to get 200 people in the same room,” said the 28 year old, who suffers from asthma. “We’re not even sure if it’s worth putting our lives on the line.”

Springs also noted the possible risk to the family members of test takers if they are infected.

“Especially in Hawaii, with multigenerational families living together — grandmas, uncles and aunties,” Springs said. “It’s just a COVID breakout waiting to happen.”

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Guam primary election canceled because of virus

HAGATNA, Guam — Guam’s governor signed a law cancelling this week’s primary election in the U.S. territory because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Democratic Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero signed a bill cancelling the primary scheduled for Saturday, Pacific Daily News reported.

Lawmakers passed the bill Thursday after the Guam Election Commission requested a postponement or cancellation, citing a lack of confidence the primary could be conducted safely during the pandemic.

The bill allowed all candidates to advance to the Nov. 3 general election, which is expected to be held as scheduled.

Voters who do not wish to leave home to vote in-person because of fears over the virus will be able to begin casting absentee ballots as early as mid-September.

Lawmakers previously canceled Guam primaries in 1994 and 2006, Republican Sen. Mary Torres said.

Legislators in July rejected a bill to cancel the primary election and instead voted to expand in-office and curbside absentee voting.

“Every vote counts,” Democratic Sen. Tina Muña-Barnes, speaker of the Guam Legislature, said Thursday. “But the reality is Guam today currently has 676 active COVID cases. Yesterday we had a record rate of confirmed cases, at 136.”

More than 2,500 people already had cast early ballots for the primary, not including off-island ballots received by mail, election officials said.

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For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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