Hawaii last state to hold out on lifting mask mandate as COVID cases continue to fall

A file image shows Waikiki Beach on Oahu Island, Hawaii. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

Hawaii has become the last state not planning on lifting its indoor mask mandate.

Gov. David Ige told KITV last week that he was working with the state's Department of Health to determine the right timing to ease restrictions.

"Hawaii ranks second in the nation when it comes to COVID deaths, in part because of the indoor mask requirement and other measures that have proven successful in protecting our community from this potentially deadly virus," he said. Our decisions are based on science, with the health and safety of our community as our top priority."

At the beginning of the month, Ige said he would not mandate booster shots for travelers coming to the islands, citing a drop in cases and hospitalizations.

In Maui, the local proof of vaccine regulation would end Monday, The Maui News said

The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico – which lifted its mask requirement last July and quickly reinstated it within weeks – also has no plans to lift its mandate, according to the New York Times

El Nuevo Día reported that Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi told residents it is "not yet time" to let their guard down, and signed a booster dose order.

Elsewhere, mandates have either expired or are scheduled to be lifted, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations around the country have fallen since January's omicron surge.

Public health leaders have acknowledged in recent weeks that they are cautiously optimistic about current pandemic trends and aim to reach a place where COVID-19 is not a "constant crisis."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky previously told reporters that the government is contemplating a change to its mask guidance in the coming weeks.

World Health Organization (WHO) doctors have warned against lifting restrictions all at once. 

Despite positive statistics on cases and hospitalizations, deaths have consistently remained high.

Data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center shows the U.S. reported 49,965 new cases in the last day and 655 new deaths – down from more than a million new cases and more than 4,400 new deaths in January.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Washington state to end mask mandate March 21 for most places, Inslee announces

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