KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – As the debate over whether or not Hawaii should declare a state of emergency due to the outbreak of dengue fever on Hawaii Island, a West Hawaii business organization is sharing their thoughts and concerns about the impacts the situation has had – or could have – on the local economy.
In an interview conducted a day after Kailua-Kona was designated as a high risk zone for acquiring the mosquito-borne disease, the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce executive director Kirstin Kahaloa said the organization is working to make sure local business isn’t threatened by the new designation.
Kahaloa said the chamber hasn’t taken a position on whether or not the state is doing enough to address the dengue fever outbreak, but she did have one important message. “People should not be scared to visit the islands if they already have plans to do so,” Kahaloa said.
The chamber has a membership of over 540 businesses in West Hawaii.
On Friday, Congressmwoman Tulsi Gabbard called on Governor David Ide to make the declaration. Her request was not publicly answered. Meanwhile, a MoveOn.org petition asking the governor to declare a state of emergency already has gathered 543 signatures.