As COVID cases soar, Blangiardi says bringing back mask mandate ‘a possibility’

COVID cases are still rising with the state Health Department reporting an average of 925 new cases a day.
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 1:12 PM HST|Updated: May. 18, 2022 at 6:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As COVID cases soar, Honolulu’s mayor is warning it could be necessary to bring back the mask mandate to tamp down on infections.

“We are sort of in a warning stage as opposed to a watch stage. I think we could be on a threshold for taking some action,” said Blangiardi.

“The only actions would be strong encouragement would be to wear a mask and if necessary if numbers were to continue to escalate perhaps another mask mandate.”

Any mask mandate would be under the jurisdiction of the state and Blangiardi said the city would follow DOH direction.

Hawaii’s COVID surge continues, with more than 7,000 cases in the past week

Dr. Jim Ireland, director of the Emergency Medical Services Department, said large events are a key source of spread.

“You do have a lot of people there. Hundreds if not more,” he said, referring to large graduations.

“Somebody in there is going to have COVID unfortunately and if they have close contact with people, there’s a chance they could spread it.”

On Wednesday, the state Health Department said the seven-day average statewide is up to 925 cases per day. That doesn’t include the large number of at-home COVID tests. Meanwhile, over the past seven days hospitalizations have gone up from 88 to 126, but there’s no bump in ICU figures.

Earlier this week, Gov. David Ige said health officials believe the case count is five times higher than the reported number because results from home tests aren’t reported.

“If it is five times, that puts us at the peak of Omicron so people should be aware. We are not going to mandate mask requirements at this point in time,” said Ige.

If you multiply the daily average by five, that would mean Hawaii is seeing about 4,625 cases a day.

Hawaii News Now asked the governor if there’s no mask mandate now because of a lack of appetite for increased restrictions or if the situation in the hospitals wasn’t serious enough to warrant it.

“It’s a combination of both,” said Ige.

Hawaii News Now also asked Ireland if it is just a matter of time before everyone gets COVID.

“I do believe at some point most people are likely to contract COVID in some form. Hopefully, it’s a super, super mild form,” he said.

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