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Law school graduates in Hawaii fear virus infection at bar exam

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

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 Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

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. T

he 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.