Covid-19 news: live updates on masks, vaccines and cases

Credit…Erika P. Rodriguez for The New York Times

Indoor mask mandates in all states except Hawaii have expired or are set to be lifted, as the United States approaches its third year of the pandemic. Puerto Rico, the largest US territory, also has no plans to lift its mask mandate.

As the Omicron wave recedes, several governors announced in quick succession this month that they would end their statewide mask mandates, some of which applied to schools or indoor public places. Many expire before the end of the month. Fewer than 10 states still require masks in K-12 schools, though federal guidelines recommend that people in places with outbreaks and all students, teachers, and staff wear masks, regardless of their vaccination status.

Last week, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency was working on guidance, including on masks, that was “relevant” and would encourage measures where they are most needed to protect health. public.

Hawaii, which has had among the fewest per capita cases in the country during the pandemic, has seen its daily average of new cases drop by about 70% in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. . Hospitalizations fell by about 50% over the same period and deaths fell by about 10%.

“I’m working with the Department of Health to determine when the time is right for Hawaii to lift the indoor mask mandate,” Gov. David Ige, a Democrat, said. Recount a local TV news station late last week. “Hawaii ranks second in the nation for Covid deaths, in part due to the indoor mask requirement and other measures that have proven effective in protecting our community from this potentially deadly virus. Our decisions are based on science, with the health and safety of our community being our top priority. »

But some local Hawaiian restrictions are coming to an end. In Maui County, proof of vaccination or negative coronavirus test results are no longer required start this week for bars, gyms and restaurants. Nearly 80% of Hawaii’s population is fully immunized.

Puerto Rico has a similar level of inoculation, and its daily averages of new cases and hospitalizations have fallen about 60% over the past two weeks, according to a Times database. Deaths on the island have fallen by 42% over the same period.

Despite the improvement of conditions on the island, the rules are renewed.

Last week, Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi signed an executive order that mandated a recall by March 15 for employees of child care centers, gyms, beauty salons, beauty salons, hair salons, spas and casinos. It also maintained a 75% capacity restriction at restaurants, theaters and cinemas. This will remain in place until March 31.

“We are currently seeing a sustained reduction in statistics around the positivity rate and hospitalizations, which presents us with a better picture,” Pierluisi said in a press release. “Even so, it is not yet time to let our guard down – we must continue to protect ourselves against this virus.”

Hawaii and Puerto Rico may have some of the strictest mask mandates, but they are not alone. Even though many states lifted indoor mask requirements this month, schools and hospitals were often exempt from the new policies. Officials in some cities and school districts have kept the mandates in place, with rules varying from county to county.

Alyssa Lukpat contributed report.

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