Maui News

House Approves Committee to Combat Economic Impacts of COVID-19

March 4, 2020, 11:41 AM HST
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This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. PC: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM. Content provider: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS

The Hawai’i State House of Representatives today approved House Resolution 54 to create a Select House Committee on COVID-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness.

House Speaker Scott K. Saiki introduced the measure, which will bring together representatives from local and state government, private industry, and nonprofit agencies and organizations to report back to the House on steps needed to be prepared for the financial effects of an outbreak.

According to the resolution, COVID-19 may deeply impact Hawaiʻi’s economy due to the state’s proximity to Asia and reliance on the tourism industry and imported goods.

Both the Honolulu Festival and the Festival of Pacific Arts & Culture, which bring thousands of participants to the state, have been cancelled or postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

The State Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has reported a 7.3 percent drop in international passengers in February and has estimated a loss of more than $23 million in visitor expenditures.

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During the recession of 2008, the state government was forced to reduce the school week to four days, cut millions of dollars from social programs, and reduce public employee salaries by 5 percent.

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The committee will identify potential economic and financial impacts to the state and develop short-term and long-term mitigation plans so that these types of cuts can be avoided.

Speaker Saiki will appoint the committee’s chair and its members.

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