States in rapid succession have announced plans to drop indoor mask requirements as coronavirus infections drop, but one holdout remains: Hawaii.
Gov. David Ige (D) said Thursday that he is consulting with state health officials “to determine when the time is right for Hawaii to lift the indoor mask mandate,” according to KITV-4, an ABC affiliate.
Ige said Hawaii was second-lowest among U.S. states in coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic “in part because of the indoor mask requirement and other measures that have proven successful in protecting our community from this potentially deadly virus.”
On Thursday, New Mexico lifted its indoor mask mandate and Washington state announced that it would phase out its mandate in March. Even as many states lift indoor masking requirements, health and education officials have continued to mandate mask use in schools, public transportation, health-care settings and other situations.
Despite having an economy highly dependent on tourism, Hawaii has been more proactive throughout the pandemic. In March 2020, the islands issued strict self-quarantine orders for all arrivals, rolling those back only in October of that year. And when delta variant cases started overwhelming hospitals in the state last summer, Hawaii again discouraged tourism. And with omicron, the state went back on alert again, now hoping restrictions will lift by spring.