Hawaiian authorities have disclosed that the state will soon end its mask mandates, making it the last state in the nation to do so.
The mandates will discontinue on March 26.
David Ige, the state’s governor, shared that Hawaii’s COVID-19 case and hospitalization rates have fallen significantly. Data from local health authorities indicate that the downward trend will continue.
The state kept its indoor mask mandate in place longer than some observers expected, possibly because the Hawaiian islands would face excessive medical strain from an unchecked pandemic; unlike other states, Hawaii cannot divert patients to out-of-state hospitals.
Mask mandates arrived in Hawaii in April 2020 and were never lifted, not even temporarily, at any point.
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Gov. Ige told The Associated Press that Hawaii’s lengthy mandates were possible because citizens care about each other’s well-being and are willing to make sacrifices to protect it.
Nonetheless, health authorities continue to recommend masks inside hospitals, prisons, schools, and other places where people congregate.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green, an emergency room doctor, supports lifting mask mandates. He feels that keeping mandates alive for so long has positively impacted Hawaiian public health, but he believes it’s time to lift them.
Green also mentioned that the governor is conservative about safety measures, which made Hawaii the state with the lowest COVID-19 rates. However, there’s a sense within the government that it’s time to return to normalcy.
In January, Hawaii saw a dramatic spike in cases — though not deaths — probably related to the omicron strain. Case rates fell throughout February and March, and many days had no COVID-19 deaths.