HI COVID Cases Slow, Regulations Ease
By Catherine Cluett Pactol
With COVID cases on the decline in Hawaii, Gov. David Ige announced changes to rules related to COVID-19 last week. While measures like the Safe Travels Program for entering the state and indoor mask mandates will continue, the governor said emergency orders of pandemic regulations will be transferred to the county level, and limits for social gatherings established in a Nov. 2 state order will end on Dec. 1.
“Hawaii residents have worn their masks and avoided large gatherings, even important family events,” said Ige. “Most of our residents are vaccinated. We worked together to keep our communities as safe as possible during this pandemic. The State of Hawaii is now ready to move from overall state coordination back to the counties.”
The Safe Travels Program will continue to require proof of vaccination, negative COVID test results or quarantine for those arriving in the state. The vaccination or testing requirements for state executive and county employees as well as vaccination or testing requirements for contractors and visitors to state facilities will also continue.
Executive Order 21-08, issued on Nov. 2 with regard to social gathering limits of 10 people for indoor settings and 25 people max outdoors, as well as restaurant and gym capacity capped at 50 percent, will be dropped on Dec. 1. The counties will implement appropriate measures for social gatherings, restaurant operations, social establishments and other venues within their own counties, according to Ige.
“I want to thank the people of Maui County for doing such an excellent job of protecting and supporting one another throughout this entire pandemic,” said Mayor Michael Victorino. “Our 1.5 percent positivity rate is one of the nation’s lowest…. I remind everyone that vigilance is still needed as infection rates are rising in the continental U.S. and Europe. As we monitor the global situation we will continue to seek guidance from our medical advisors. My administration is currently reviewing the existing rules and we will soon announce plans to ease more of Maui County’s public health restrictions….”
On Molokai, COVID-19 cases have dropped to three logged in the past month, as of last Sunday. The Dept. of Health reported one case on Nov. 3 and two on Nov. 18. The DOH tally puts the island at 246 cases since the pandemic began. Statewide, new cases are at an average of 84 per day, with 4,240 in the last month and 84,615 since the pandemic began.
“The nature of this emergency was like no other, and it required a level of federal, state and county coordination that we’ve never before seen,” said Ige. “Together, with the people of Hawaii, we arrived at this point. But the pandemic is not over. We urge residents to remain vigilant as we continue to protect the health and safety of our kamaʻaina, re-energize our economy and strengthen our communities.”
The Department of Health is adopting new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on COVID-19 booster vaccinations, which are now available to all adults.