LIHU‘E — Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami is urging the public to wear face masks in public, but hasn’t yet made the recommendation mandatory and is instead asking for voluntary compliance.
The request sparked from new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mandates, recommending cloth face coverings in public settings where social-distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
Kawakami threw his weight behind the CDC recommendations Friday, backed by Dr. Janet Berreman, state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Officer.
“I am strongly urging all individuals over the age of 10 to wear a cloth mask or face-covering anytime you are outside in the public,” Kawakami said Friday. “This is not a mandate.”
Officials aren’t recommending everyone rush out and buy N95 face masks or medical-grade masks.
They’re suggesting people make their own out of a T-shirt or use face barriers like bandanas, and leave the medical grade masks for the professionals.
“It’s true that medical professionals who deal with sick patients need high-quality medical respirator masks to prevent COVID-19 viruses from getting to their eyes, nose or mouth. There is a shortage of those masks, so the general public should avoid using them,” Berreman said Friday. “These do not need to be surgical masks. They can be simple cloth masks made from fabric, or tee-shirts or bandanas worn over the lower face.”
Kawakami “strongly recommended” all businesses and services require employees to wear cloth masks as well, and urged public-facing businesses to require customers over the age of 10 to wear cloth masks upon entry of the business, as well.
Kauai officials said the number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 15 on Friday, with two two new positive cases reported since Thursday. Of those 15 cases, 7 individuals have either recovered or returned to their home on the mainland. The remaining 8 active cases are residents, seven are in home isolation and one remains in isolation in the hospital. All of Kaua‘i’s cases are travel-related.