Highlights from Hawai‘i State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19

April 20, 2020, 9:58 AM HST · Updated April 20, 9:58 AM
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Brig. Gen. Kenneth S. Hara

Adjutant General Kenneth Hara, Incident Commander from the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency met with the Hawai‘i State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 on Wednesday, April 15, to report on recent updates.

He spelled out a tiered response to control the pandemic:

  • Prevent and protect: This is to detect and prevent the disease from spreading, when and where it happens in order to achieve timely and accurate state situational awareness of the evolving disease and the impact on critical sectors.
  • Medical response: To develop recommendations for public health jurisdictions to manage cases and their contacts, support the health care system to manage medical surge, and to deploy resources to affected areas to support State and Local governments.
  • Public message: To provide timely, accurate, clear, consistent, credible, and actionable information for safety and health message that protect the public.
  • Supply chain: To maintain a stable and functioning one by preparing for and addressing critical vulnerabilities and shortages. To identify and implement mitigation strategies should the situation arise. And, if needed, request for medical counter-measures and supplies from Federal Strategic National Stockpiles, including medications, ventilators, and respiratory protection devices, as well as seek alternative sources for other critical items.

In order to quantify how the pandemic’s impact on daily life and, in conjunction with the decision matrix, the following State response condition levels are being implemented:

  • Level 1 – Green: The disease is occurring outside of Hawai‘i and healthcare facilities are capable of handling expected cases. No disruption of daily life.
  • Level 2 – Yellow: The disease is being brought to the state by travelers with limited or no community spread and healthcare facilities are capable of handling expected cases. Minor disruption to daily life.
  • Level 3 – Orange: The disease is being spread by both travelers and local communities across the islands and healthcare facilities begin to implement crisis operations. Moderate disruption to daily life.
  • Level 4 – Red: The disease is severely spread across the islands and healthcare facilities are fully implementing crisis operations. Major disruption to daily life.

General Hara indicated that the state is currently in the beginning stages of Level 3 – Orange, but with strict adherence from the public on current guidelines, he noted that it could soon move back into Level 2 – Yellow.

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His plan also includes a communications component to ensure that critical information is being provided to the public. The Special Committee asked that he consolidate information on the separate State and County guidelines such as the stay-at-home orders, mask policies, and other essential activities.

Per the committee’s request, the communications team will work to better educate the public reporting suspected blatant violations of social distancing and stay-at-home orders by calling either 911 or 211 so that law enforcement can investigate any alleged violations.

There are also works in the plan to safely re-open the economy, working with the Governor’s Economic Committee. The plan will work backwards to move the state from Level 3 – Orange to Level 1 – Green in a safe manner. Per the Special Committee’s suggestion, Hara will create a recovery chart like the pandemic response plan. Such a chart would include milestones for a decision matrix regarding what restriction can be ease and what types of public activity and events may be allowed to occur.

He said the State must keep testing in order to slowly reduce public health restrictions. If safety protocols continue to be adhered to by the public, Hara said it is possible that “business-as-usual” could restart in approximately one month.

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