LIHUE — Two people on Kaua‘i are under the supervision of the state Department of Health, self-monitoring for COVID-19, according to latest updates from DOH, and Gov. David Ige has issued an emergency proclamation regarding the virus.
The two individuals are part of 72 people who, as of Wednesday, are self-monitoring within the state, including 65 on O‘ahu, two on Hawai‘i Island and three on Maui.
Currently, DOH says there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.
Wednesday, Ige issued an emergency proclamation that authorizes the spending of state funds to purchase supplies and equipment, and to facilitate the speedy and efficient response to conditions that may be created by COVID-19. The disaster period begins immediately and continues through April 29.
In the announcement, Ige emphasized the proclamation’s purpose is to prepare for any possible cases or outbreaks in the state.
“This emergency proclamation will give us the ability to move more quickly and efficiently in our efforts to protect our communities from the virus and provide emergency relief if, and when, it is necessary,” Ige said.
Ige designated Lt. Gov. Josh Green as liaison between the state and the health-care community on Wednesday as well, directing Green to evaluate the medical community’s readiness to deliver care to individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
Green is now also in charge of securing additional needed equipment and of advocating for appropriation funding at the state and federal levels.
“It’s important to remember our health-care community is our first line of defense,” Green said. “It’s imperative we do a full evaluation of their current supply and needs to ensure they’re supported and any gaps in preparedness are alleviated.”
Mayor Derek Kawakami also signed an emergency proclamation on Wednesday, issued in coordination with the governor’s office and other Hawai‘i counties.
“While there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i, it is necessary that our county officials prepare for any possible impacts, and this emergency proclamation allows us to do that,” Kawakami said in the news release about the proclamation.
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, congressional leaders announced an agreement to provide a total of $8.3 billion in emergency funding to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak nationwide, including at least $4.5 million for Hawai‘i.
The bipartisan deal also includes telehealth legislation authored by U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i). Schatz’s legislation will expand the use of telehealth during the current outbreak, allowing more patients to receive care at home, while freeing up health-care resources and helping limit the spread of infections in emergency rooms and hospitals.
The package is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump this week.
“While there are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hawai‘i, this federal money will help fund our state’s response efforts and give us additional resources to keep people safe,” said Schatz.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case (D-urban O‘ahu) joined his colleagues in voting to pass the emergency supplemental appropriations measure as well.
“While state and county governments and other entities in Hawai‘i and throughout our country have been on the frontlines to date, this is clearly a national matter which requires the full mobilization and application of national resources across the board,” Case said.
Tuesday, Hawai‘i officials told Associated Press they’re capable of testing 250 samples for the new coronavirus each week, with specialized equipment in rooms at the state DOH laboratory in Pearl City in O‘ahu. In an emergency, officials said the lab could test 500 samples a week.
Ige said the state was checking whether private laboratories in Hawai‘i would be interested in testing for the virus themselves. He said the state would want to certify these labs for the job if they were interested in doing so. More laboratories conducting testing would help the state respond if the outbreak spreads to the islands.
Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or email@example.com.