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Hawaii, last state with mask mandate, is letting it expire

“It’s taken the entire community to get to this point,” Gov. David Ige said Tuesday.
Image: Hawaii mask
Pedestrians wearing protective masks pass a sign that reads "Support Your Local Coffee Shop" along Front Street in Lahaina, Hawaii, on April 24, 2020.Mia Shimabuku / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Hawaii is letting its mask mandate expire on March 25, making it the last state in the U.S. to drop the Covid-19 protection, Gov. David Ige said Tuesday. 

As with other states that have relaxed mask rules in recent weeks, Ige attributed the shift to declining case counts, hospitalizations, improved treatments and widely available vaccine boosters. 

“It’s taken the entire community to get to this point,” he said, adding: “But we’ve seen variants wipe out previous progress. If we see another surge, we will be ready to reinstitute the mask policy, if needed.”

Speaking to reporters, Ige said masks would still likely be required in public schools, prisons, airports and other similar indoor settings. 

According to an NBC News tally, hospitalizations have fallen in the state by 66 percent over the last 28 days. Across the country, cases have fallen by 45 percent, according to the tally. 

Hawaii became the last state to keep its mask mandate in place after officials in states like Connecticut, Oregon, California and Washington State announced that they were ditching masks. 

Some requirements remain in effect in each of those states, however.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on indoor masking last month, the agency said that people in more than 90 percent of the country live in places with low to medium risk for the disease and could take off their masks.