Maui Coronavirus Updates

Gov. Ige Says Hawaiʻi will Maintain Mask Mandate Despite CDC’s Updated Guidance

By Wendy Osher
May 13, 2021, 3:16 PM HST
* Updated May 13, 7:02 PM
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Gov. David Ige. PC: Office of Gov. David Ige. File (April 12, 2021)

Governor David Ige today said he will continue to maintain the mask mandate here in Hawaiʻi even though the CDC has loosened its mask recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals.

“We will continue to enforce the mask mandate… I see overwhelming compliance,” said Gov. Ige. “Most people that I see are wearing their masks… I do believe that’s one of the reasons we’ve had per capita very low infection rates. I think everyone in our community now understands why it’s important to wear masks. I think the overwhelming majority in our community are willing to wear a mask–not only for their own personal protection, but I do believe that everyone understands now that it’s really to protect each other. Wearing a mask reduces the risk to our entire community of spreading COVID-19 and the less COVID is spread,” he said, the quicker the community can get back to normal.

The information was shared during a media briefing on Thursday afternoon. During the press briefing, the governor said that it’s currently difficult to determine who is and who isn’t fully vaccinated.

He said, “Implementing these mandates is complicated. It’s something that we evaluate and look at all of the data that we have and the best guidance from public health officials. I just wanted to remind everyone that as of today, only about 40 percent of Hawaiʻi’s residents are fully vaccinated–which means, the majority of us here in the islands are not vaccinated.”

The CDC shared an updated list today of activities that people can resume it they’ve been fully vaccinated. The list includes recommendations for the resumption of activities that people participated in prior to the pandemic.

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The CDC recommends that activities can resume without wearing a mask or staying six feet apart for fully vaccinated individuals, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local businesses and workplace guidelines.

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Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said, “Hawaiʻi’s four mayors have been working with Governor Ige and Lieutenant Governor Green on a statewide approach to mask mandates. The decision to rescind or maintain face-covering requirements for those who are fully vaccinated will be made by the governor at the appropriate time. The County of Maui will abide by this decision.”

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi Tweeted this afternoon calling the CDC recommendation relating to masks “very encouraging.” He said it will guide continued discussions with the governor regarding easing COVID-19 restrictions.

“We continue to evaluate the CDC guidance and will be making adjustments as appropriate,” said Gov. Ige. “I think the challenge is that it’s impossible to determine who’s vaccinated and who’s not vaccinated; and if you look at the CDC guidance, it continues to say that wearing masks are an important mitigation measure. The best case scenario is everyone wearing a mask because it protects not only the individual wearing the mask, most importantly it protects the community. It protects against the spread of the virus, especially for those who are not vaccinated.”

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“Clearly at this point in time, with the majority of our community not fully vaccinated, we’re not able to determine whether someone is vaccinated or not, we will continue to maintain the mask mandate here in the state of Hawaiʻi,” said Gov. Ige.

The CDC’s “can do” recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals also advises that if you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms; However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.

The CDC fully vaccinated individuals should still follow workplace and local business guidelines. If you travel, you should still take steps to protect yourself and others, and will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.

The organization says fully vaccinated individuals should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if they have been around someone who is sick. People who have a condition or are taking medications that weaken the immune system, should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss their activities. They may need to keep taking all precautions to prevent COVID-19.

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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