Hawaii mayor says virus command post will oversee operations

KAILUA-KONA — A new coronavirus command post set up at an events venue will help enhance public communication and education on the Big Island, Hawaii County Mayor Kim said.

Kim said the post located at Aunty Sally Kaleohano’s Luau Hale in Hilo should help ensure people affected by the virus do not fall through bureaucratic cracks, West Hawaii Today reported Monday.

The center is expected to have staff from state and county agencies to coordinate public education, contact tracing, incoming visitor monitoring, quarantine and isolation facilities, hospitalization and care facilities.

“They were told point blank from Day 1, ‘Yours is such an important task; you’ll have what you need,’” Kim said. “They’re given the responsibility for the whole island. They’re just trying to do their jobs and this facility will help them do their job, help all of us do our jobs.”

The county added 15 quarantine trackers to keep tabs on an expected increase in travelers as Hawaii begins to loosen health restrictions to allow in more visitors and improve the economy. The group started working at the command post Thursday.

The county trackers are separate from those hired by the state Department of Health to trace the close contacts of people who test positive for COVID-19.

Kim said the county assigned two members of the police department to the state’s contact tracing team when the health department appeared to need help.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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