hawaii-becomes-last-state-to-lift-mask-mandate,-idaho-ends-covid-19-disaster-declaration

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Hawaii will lift its statewide mask mandate by March 26. 

Gov. David Ige announced the move on Tuesday, citing falling COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations. 

HAWAII LAST STATE TO HOLD OUT ON LIFTING MASK MANDATE AS COVID CASES CONTINUE TO FALL

Hawaii is the last state to drop the pandemic safety measure.

“I do believe that we are the last community to release the mask mandate because we care about each other and we care about our community and we are all willing to sacrifice to keep each other healthy and safe,” Ige said.

Hawaii health officials still recommend wearing face masks indoors at schools, hospitals, prisons and other “congregate living settings.”

In this April 7, 2020, photo, Ricardo Lay, 52, wearing an aloha print mask, poses for a photo as he walks in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu.

In this April 7, 2020, photo, Ricardo Lay, 52, wearing an aloha print mask, poses for a photo as he walks in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones, File)

The end of the mask mandate coincides with when Hawaii plans to lift its COVID-19 quarantine requirement for travelers. 

State and local officials around the country have lifted mask and vaccine restrictions as January’s surge of the omicron variant eased. 

In February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) loosened indoor mask guidance – including for schools – in counties nationwide. 

MORE THAN 90 PERCENT OF AMERICANS CAN GO WITHOUT MASKS: CDC

At the beginning of the month, the agency’s map of COVID-19 community levels by county showed more than 90% of the U.S. population was in areas where masks are not necessary indoors.

Also on Tuesday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little said he would lift the state’s public health emergency disaster declaration on April 15.

“We’re hopeful the recent decrease in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths means we are on a downward trend with the pandemic,” he said in a statement. “The April 15 timeframe provides an important bridge for hospitals and other healthcare providers to plan for the transition.”

Other states, including Oregon, have acted to lift pandemic emergency declarations in recent weeks. 

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Emergency declarations serve as a legal foundation that allows government officials to streamline the response to disasters. 

Such declarations can make the state eligible for increased federal and state funding, allow red tape and regulations to be lifted and create the framework for emergency orders to be issued for things like social distancing, business closures and mask mandates.

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