Don’t throw away those masks yet.
Kaua‘i County health officials said Tuesday it will be prudent to follow Gov. David Ige’s lead keeping indoor mask requirements in place, even as every other COVID-19 restriction have been lifted or will be lifted by month’s end.
Ige announced the state will drop the state’s Safe Travels program March 25. The announcement came one day after county mayors, including Kaua‘i Mayor Derek Kawakami, lifted county-level COVID restrictions.
Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said during a Tuesday briefing that, while the CDC recommends communities follow their own rules, being cautious has served the Garden Isle well during the pandemic. Kaua‘i’s numbers remained low compared to most other places in Hawai‘i and on the mainland, and that was because of the precaution and discipline residents exercised when it came to preventing the virus spread.
“We’ve been cautious and it has served us well,” she said.
Kaua‘i has seen 11,898 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. Examples of communities lifting mask mandate only to see case counts increase have been ample, Berreman pointed out, so exercising prudence as the governor suggests would be wise, even as cases decrease by the day.
In the meantime, continuing to wear masks indoors is “a service and kindness to those around you,” Berreman said.
The Kaua‘i District Health Office announced 24 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, March 1. That brings the number of active cases to 73, with three hospitalized.
The seven-day average of cases per day is 17 cases. Five weeks ago, during the peak, the seven-day average was over 400 cases per day.
“The dropping case count is a great sign,” Berreman said.
It’s also why counties lifted their regulations. Kawakami thanked residents during the briefing for their participation and effort during the pandemic, which he classified as “the most extraordinary and unprecedented challenge over the past two years.”
“We have the knowledge and tools to keep ourselves, our families and our community healthy and safe,” the mayor said. “Let’s not forget these best practices as we move forward.”
For more information on the county’s COVID-19 response, visit www.kauai.gov/COVID-19.