Roth encourages “mindful masking” as COVID numbers rise

Mayor Mitch Roth has called for “mindful masking” among Big Island residents as COVID cases increase.

In a statement today, Roth said that there are not yet any mask mandates on the island, but in the face of rising COVID numbers, he strongly encouraged people use masks in large gatherings, grocery stores, indoor gathering spaces, public transportation and in dining establishments when not actively eating or drinking.

“We are just asking our residents to continue to be mindful in their interactions with each other,” Roth said in a statement. “Although we have moved on to a time where we are learning to live with the virus, it is still very much a threat, and there are many individuals with health issues that make the virus a serious risk to their well-being. We don’t want to move back to a period of mandates to help control the spread. We’ve been there, done that, and we know what works at this point in the game. That’s why we are again calling on our community to keep each other safe and get us through the current surge — safely.”

There have been more than 1,400 new COVID cases reported in Hawaii County in the last two weeks, with nearly 12,000 new cases reported statewide over the same period.