As Maui experiences yet another surge of Covid-19, Mayor Michael Victorino is urging residents to mask up indoors but says he isn’t yet ready to enact restrictions like mask mandates or rules on crowd sizes.

Maui County locator map

Right now, masks aren’t required in most public places. But in a joint statement issued Wednesday, Victorino and Maui Memorial Medical Center Chief Medical Director Michael Shea told residents that it’s “more important than ever” to mask up indoors where the virus is more likely to spread, such as offices, restaurants, bars, stores and public transit.

“Throughout this pandemic, the residents of Maui County have worked together to slow the spread of COVID-19 to help protect our health care resources,” the two officials said in their statement. “We ask that you continue to do your part with respectful masking, staying informed, and by practicing COVIDsense.”

The plea to Maui residents comes as the number of people sick enough with Covid-19 to need hospitalization rose 60% in the last two weeks, according to the release.

At the same time, Maui County’s positivity rate — the percentage of coronavirus tests that come back positive — now stands at almost 17%, according to state data. That measure is used to gauge the extent of the virus’ spread in the community, but it also could be an underestimate because so many people take at-home Covid-19 tests, in which the outcome isn’t always reported to the state.

During a virtual event with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Wednesday, Victorino said he would consider instituting new mandates only if a surge of Covid-19 patients once again flooded Maui’s hospital, straining medical staff and filling hospital beds.

“We only have one full service hospital here in Maui, and we’ve got to be mindful of the numbers,” Victorino said. “If it gets overwhelmed, then restriction may be required.”

Civil Beat’s coverage of Maui County is supported in part by grants from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation.

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