HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii is one of about one dozen states that will keep its mask mandate in place, for now.
Gov. David Ige said Hawaii would keep its mask mandate in place hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said it was safe for vaccinated people to drop the mask indoors and outdoors.
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“It’s better that we continue to wear masks until we get to the point where 70 or 80 percent of our community is fully vaccinated,” he said during a press conference on Thursday. “Especially we want to get more of our children to be vaccinated.”
KHON2 reached out to Gov. Ige’s office on Friday to see if that percentage was in fact his goal to revise the mask mandate.
His office said, ‘not necessarily,’ and he would be conferring with experts from the Department of Health, county mayors, the Attorney General and HI-EMA before setting any kind of goal.
After executive meetings on Friday, Lt. Gov. Dr. Josh Green weighed in on Gov. Ige’s decision.
“It sounds to me like being over 50% is what Governor Ige wants for over 50% to be fully vaccinated,” he said. “So far, 834,000 of our residents have already started the vaccination process, so that’s like 60%, and more than half.”
Green says there are about 200,000 residents who are not eligible for the vaccine because they are under 12 years old.
“To make it much more than 50% fully vaccinated is setting an awfully high bar to meet something that the CDC has just said is safe. If you want to put my medical hat on, it’s fine now if you are fully vaccinated, you do not need to wear a mask outdoors,” Lt. Gov. Green said. “From a rules standpoint, and the governor’s feelings about it, which I have to respect. He wants people to have that wait or pause just a little longer until we have I guess more than half more people fully vaccinated.”
Green believes Hawaii should follow the CDC guidance because it tells people that the vaccine works.
“And also that there is a light at the end of this tunnel that you can get to normal, get back to your life the way you like to live it, and that’s calming,” he added.
According to the CDC, Hawaii ranks in the top five for vaccinating adults nationwide.
Vermont, Connecticut and Maine announced they will drop their mask mandates after the CDC’s announcement on Thursday; Massachusetts joins Hawaii in keeping the mask mandate in place..
“I think in a few weeks, we’ll be able to fully meet that CDC recommendation, because I think we should I think the President has asked us to make that our policy and it rewards people who have made that commitment to being vaccinated, and that’s important,” Green added.
According to the CDC, over 1.4 million shots have been put in arms in Hawaii and Green says case numbers will drop as more shots are administered.
“We only need to get to 2 million shots to be fully immune, in my opinion,” he said. “So the next couple weeks we should see counts drop off, and that will also help all of the leadership across the state the governor, the mayors, the senators and Congress support, you know, the basic science recommendations.”
“To return to normalcy, we need to start returning some normal behavior or some normal expectations of life to people that will make people more compliant with some of these rules,” he said. “I think it will make people feel more comfortable about going to get the vaccination, which is a good thing in my mind.”