Gov. David Ige ruled out the possibility that mask mandates and other rules to restrict activities in the islands could be reimplemented as cases of Covid-19 infections continue to rise.

Although masks are still required in public schools, something Ige said he would continue to support if cases rise, preventing the spread of the coronavirus will mostly be left up to individual responsibility.

“We all know what works: It’s about wearing our masks, maintaining physical distancing. And people should decide whether they want to take the risk of going to an event with a lot of people,” the governor said during the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” program on Wednesday.

Governor David Ige speaks during a press conference on Covid-19 at the Captiol.
Hawaii won’t be returning to mandatory masking or other requirements to deal with the pandemic, Gov. David Ige said Wednesday. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Hawaii reported an average of about 1,200 new Covid cases each day in the last seven days. There were also six new deaths. The average daily case count for Hawaii has been above 1,100 since mid-May.

However, that is still far below the peak of daily Covid infections experienced in January, when daily case counts rose above 5,000.

Ige said about 200 patients are currently hospitalized with Covid, an increase from 151 reported last week. He said the increase in hospitalizations is concerning but is still below the peak from last summer, when more than 400 patients diagnosed with Covid were in hospitals and intensive care units were filled to capacity.

Just 13 of the 205 ICU beds currently occupied in the state have Covid-19 patients. Hawaii has a total of 325 ICU beds. Hawaii also has 674 total ventilators. Of the 119 in use, seven are being used by Covid patients, according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

More than 1,400 people in Hawaii have died because of the coronavirus.

While no new mask mandate is expected, Ige said he still supports masking in public schools. For him, it’s about returning to in-person learning earlier.

Under guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are asymptomatic can end their isolation period so long as they stay masked.

If cases continue rising, the governor said he may consider requiring indoor masking when school begins again in the fall.

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