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Gov. Ige firm on keeping Hawaii indoor mask mandate through March 25

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Hawaii will keep its indoor mask mandate in place despite new federal guidelines today that allow most of the U.S. population to stop wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. David Ige this afternoon said he intends to keep Hawaii’s indoor mask mandate in place, as required under the current COVID-19 emergency proclamation, through its effective date of March 25.

“Hawaii will keep the indoor mask mandate for now,” said Ige in a statement. “We are watching disease activity across the state and globally, especially as other changes are made to current programs across the U.S. and at the county level. We will adjust accordingly.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today outlined a new set of measures for communities, which puts more emphasis on hospitalizations than on positive test results, according to the Associated Press. Based on new risk maps, which are available by county, most of the U.S. population living in low or medium threat areas may stop wearing masks.

CDC’s new “community level tool” classifies each county as low (green), medium (yellow) or high (orange), with recommended prevention measures.

Most of Hawaii, including Honolulu County, is classified as medium, with some impact on the health care system. Hawaii County is classified as low, with limited impact on the health care system and low levels of severe illness.

The CDC only recommends wearing a mask indoors in public for areas classified as high.

The Aloha State remains the last holdout with a statewide indoor mask mandate in place and no announcements on when it will end.

“The CDC eliminated its mask recommendation once before but was forced to reinstate the indoor mask requirement when the delta variant caused a spike in cases,” said Ige in a statement. “Hawaii kept its indoor mask requirement in place during that time, protecting residents and preventing the rapid spread of the virus, resulting in the second lowest COVID fatality rate in the country. “

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