LISTEN: Rep. Gabbard Town Hall Covers Impact of Surging COVID-19 Infections on State
US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a tele-town hall meeting on Tuesday to update Hawai‘i residents about COVID-19. She was joined by Lieutenant Governor Josh Green as well as Hilton Raethel, the President and CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i.
This was the nineteenth coronavirus-related virtual town hall Rep. Gabbard has hosted since the pandemic began to impact Hawaiʻi.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see COVID-19 cases rapidly rising in Hawai‘i. We can’t become complacent. Every one of us can and must take steps to stop the spread of this virus by wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, practicing physical distancing, and avoid gathering in large numbers,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
“However, our state Department of Health needs to rapidly increase the number of contact tracers working every day to contain, isolate, and defeat this virus. There is no excuse for not having at least 400 contact tracers working all across the state to get our COVID numbers under control. We know that these solutions work. They’ve worked in other countries, and they can work here,” said Congresswoman Gabbard.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard began the call with an update on the current situation in Hawai‘i, where daily cases continue to rise, as well as her assessment of the deadlock in Congress over the next emergency assistance package.
The congresswoman returned to Hawai‘i this week after a busy few weeks of votes in Washington, including votes on legislation to fund key programs in Hawai‘i, including disaster preparedness, environmental protection, clean energy development, small business infrastructure, Native Hawaiian housing, essential air services, and agriculture.
Lt. Gov. Josh Green gave an update on the situation in Hawai‘i, where there are now 1,214 active cases in the state. With these numbers, he noted that the state is beginning to see its hospital capacity pushed to the limit. He emphasized the seriousness of this disease, and reinforced the common-sense steps we can take to defeat this pandemic: testing, contact tracing, physical distancing, and mask wearing.
Hilton Raethel reiterated Lt. Gov. Green’s warnings, noting that the hospitals are currently able to manage cases, but that if infections continue to rise and hospitals continue to fill, Hawai‘i could find itself in a dire situation. Hospital resources, including healthcare workers, are finite, and if they are spread too thin, individuals are not able to get the care they need and this could result in worsening morbidity and mortality.
Rep. Gabbard and her guests answered questions from callers on topics from infectious disease protocols in health care facilities, assistance for renters and the help provided by the HEROES Act, the availability of rapid testing, and whether or not there will be another round of stimulus checks.