To prevent spread of virus, mayor asks all Oahu residents to wear a cloth mask in public

Updated: Apr. 3, 2020 at 6:14 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mayor Kirk Caldwell is asking all Oahu residents to wear a cloth mask when they go into the community, including when they exercise or grocery shop.

Caldwell made the request at a news conference Thursday afternoon, the same day Hawaii reported its second coronavirus-related death since the pandemic began.

The mayor stressed that cloth masks are appropriate for residents, not the more specialized N95 masks that should be reserved for health care workers.

The call for masks in public comes as the CDC is also poised to change its recommendations on mask wearing ― something they’ve been hesitant to do because masks can give a false sense of security.

But masks do stop you from touching your face, potentially infecting yourself.

They can also prevent people who are asymptomatic from unknowingly spreading the disease. New data shows that as many as 1 in 4 Americans with coronavirus show no symptoms.

Masks have been sold out at many stores in Hawaii for more than a month, but the mayor and others said you can make your own mask with cloth you have around the house.

In fact, Kauai’s mayor has even put his own tutorial together on how to make a mask out of a t-shirt.

Also Thursday, Caldwell said he and the mayors of Kauai and Maui have sent a letter to President Trump to request a stop to all visitor air travel to Hawaii.

He said the White House has responded to the letter and is seeking the governor’s opinion.

And Caldwell reiterated the importance of following the stay-at-home order as the number of cases continue to grow. Of Hawaii’s 285 reported cases of coronavirus, 206 are on Oahu.

He said that despite the order, some non-essential businesses appear to still be operating.

If the city gets information about a non-essential business that’s open, he said, the city will call them “and explain to them that you’re not supposed to be open.”

If the business persists, he said, police will respond and “ask them to comply.”

This story will be updated.

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