CALIFORNIA — An alarming surge in COVID-19 cases prompted California officials to issue a travel advisory last week. Still, some California legislators along with other states are planning to head to Maui this week for an annual conference, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The conference was set to gather at least 50 people, with more than half a dozen lawmakers coming from California. The event is sponsored by a nonprofit, the Independent Voter Project, and will be held at the Fairmont Kea Lani Hotel in Wailea, the LA Times Reported. Travel expenses will be paid by the host, the Times reported.
In the past, the event has gathered up to 25 California legislators in past years. The gathering, according to the LA Times, has been scrutinized since it is partially funded and attended by parties of special interest including businesses and labor groups.
For this particular event, lawmakers are facing criticism for their decision to attend the event in the midst of a major spike in COVID-19 cases and just after the state urged its residents to stay local.
The first day of the conference coincided with the day that California officials moved some 40 counties back to the state’s strictest tier on the state’s COVID-19 risk assessing blueprint.
“Every age group, every demographic, racial, ethnic, in every part of the state we are seeing case rates increase,” Newsom said Monday. “We are seeing community spread broadly now throughout the state of California.”
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According to the LA Times, the chairman of the Independent Voter Project, Dan Howle, declined to identify which members of the California Legislature would be in attendance of the four-day event.
He only mentioned that “multiple members are attending from multiple states” including California, the Times reported.
“IVP decided to move forward based on the Hawaii Safe Travel program and agreement from the hotel to provide adequate social distancing spacing for seating at all meetings,” Howle told the LA Times in an email. “Based on that [program] and conversations with the hotel regarding guest safety we decided we could have a safe and secure event.”
Read more from the Los Angeles Times: California lawmakers travel to Hawaii conference amid COVID-19 travel warnings
This article originally appeared on the Across California Patch