Governor not dropping indoor mask mandate anytime soon, disappointed with slowing vaccination rate

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Tuesday marks six straight days of triple-digit COVID-19 cases for Hawaii. Gov. David Ige called the spike alarming but said what’s even more concerning is the slowdown of people getting vaccinated.

Ige was hopeful Hawaii would reach 70% vaccinated against COVID-19 by August, but he’s not so hopeful anymore.

“We administered about 15,000 vaccinations per week in the month of July. So that’s significantly lower than, for example, in May, it was at 72,000 per week,” Ige said. “So based at that pace, it would probably go into September before we hit 70%.”

Once the state hits that magic number, or once the 7-day average number of cases drops to 10 cases or less, all COVID-19 restrictions would be dropped.

However, Ige said the direction we are heading now is disappointing.

“I am definitely concerned about the last two weeks,” he said.

At this point, Ige said more people need to roll up their sleeves for Hawaii to get back to normal.

“I think it’s really important for people to know that 97% of the cases now are in unvaccinated individuals,” he said, urging Hawaii residents to get vaccinated.

Despite the uptick in cases nationwide, visitors continue to pour into the islands at a speed the Governor said he was not expecting.

Now he’s asking tourists to be respectful, and locals to be patient.

“I do know that there are points of friction in our community, and I’m asking everyone to be patient. You know, we’re working with everyone involved. Things are getting better, virtually every day,” Ige said.

In May, the CDC said fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask inside. Ige took a lot of heat for not lifting the mask mandate in the islands at the time. But now, cities like LA are going backwards and asking residents to mask up again, vaccinated or not.

Ige said after seeing what’s happening on the mainland, he’s glad he kept the mask mandate in place here, and he won’t be lifting it anytime soon.

“I’m glad that we made the decision to continue the mask mandate, especially now with the Delta variant, and many jurisdictions across the mainland are stepping back and reinstating the mask mandate,” Ige said.

Unlike other cities, the Governor said Hawaii is going to keep moving forward.

“I don’t see a case where we would go backwards, if we can all be vigilant,” he said.

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