HOLUALOA, Hawaii – The dengue fever outbreak has taken a toll on local business, according to William Pink, an operator of overnight accommodations business in Holualoa. The Haleakala Bed and Breakfast owner has been an outspoken critic of the government response to the situation.
“I’m extremely critical on our little dengue awareness website,” Pink said in a video interview. “I’ve been fairly vocal. I’ve been often crude in pointing out to these people. I mean, here in Kona for example, the Chamber of Commerce didn’t get a call to let them know that Kona was gonna be designated a red zone!”
Pink says last month he had two cancellations that happened as soon as the guests discovered that there was dengue on the Big Island. Pink does not advocate for keeping the outbreak under wraps to avoid an impact on tourism. Rather, he wants to see government move to eradicate the major component in the cycle that spreads the disease: the aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquito.
The Kailua-Kona area is now a high risk zone for the mosquito-borne disease, state health officials say.
On February 8, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi proclaimed a state of emergency due to the dengue fever outbreak on the Big Island. On February 12, Governor David Ige followed up with a state-wide declaration to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. (NOTE: The interview with Pink was recorded before the emergency proclamations were made.)
The total number of people infected with dengue fever since the outbreak began in September 2015 stands at 259. There have been no new cases reported in two days, health officials say.