UPDATE (4:45 p.m.) – While there are no cases of Coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the State of Hawaiʻi, “the CDC announced it is investigating confirmed cases of COVID-19 linked to the Grand Princess cruise ship which is returning to San Francisco,” the Hawaiʻi Department of Health reported in a Wednesday afternoon update. “The Grand Princess had two passengers on a cruise to Mexico from Feb. 11-21 who became sick and after deboarding in California were confirmed for COVID-19. The same ship conducted a second cruise from San Francisco and docked in Hawai‘i from Feb. 26-29.”
While the Grand Princess was docked in Hilo on February 29, Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense says, “a crewmember from the ship who was reported ill prior to arriving in Hawaii was taken to the Hilo Medical Center and tested negative for Coronavirus.”
“At this time, the CDC has not identified a specific risk for Hawai‘i, and DOH will continue to work with them to determine if there is any potential health threat,” the state reported.
(BIVN) – As of today (March 4) at 12 noon, there are no cases of COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi and the Department of Health has issued no Health Advisories at this time, according to the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense.
On Tuesday, the State House of Representatives passed HB1629 HD1 on third reading. The bill “provides general fund appropriations to the Department of Health and Department of Defense to support activities to detect, contain, mitigate, and respond to the coronavirus”.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaiʻi) reported today that congressional leaders reached an agreement to provide $8.3 billion in emergency funding to respond to the coronavirus outbreak, including at least $4.5 million for Hawai‘i. The bipartisan deal will include Schatz’s legislation to “expand the use of telehealth during the current outbreak, allowing more patients to receive care at home, while freeing up health care resources and helping limit the spread of infections in emergency rooms and hospitals.”
“While there are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Hawai‘i, this federal money will help fund our state’s response efforts and give us additional resources to keep people safe,” said Senator Schatz.
According to Sen. Schatz, the deal includes:
- $2 billion to help federal, state, local, and tribal governments prevent, prepare, and respond to the crisis, including $1 billion directly to state and local governments to conduct public health preparedness and response activities, and reimbursement incurred by state and local governments for costs incurred responding to the outbreak.
- $3 billion for the research and development of vaccines, other treatments, and tests;
- $500 million to purchase pharmaceuticals, masks, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies, which can be distributed to state and local health agencies in areas with a shortage of medical supplies; and
- $100 million to fund Community Health Centers, supporting smaller health clinics in under-served urban and rural areas.
Also on Wednesday, Governor David Ige announced that he has appointed Lt. Governor Josh Green as the administration’s liaison between the state and healthcare community as it pertains to COVID-19 preparedness and response, effective immediately.
Green “will evaluate the medical community’s readiness to deliver care to individuals who test positive for COVID-19,” the office of the governor reported. “He will also evaluate the current equipment supply, coordinate efforts to secure additional equipment as needed and advocate for appropriation funding at state and federal levels, in cooperation with Gov. Ige and Hawaii’s congressional delegation.”
“As we continue to ramp up our statewide efforts to address the growing COVID-19 threat, we are doing everything in our power to prepare for any possible cases and the resulting impact on our healthcare system,” Ige said in a medai release. “Because Lt. Gov. Green is a physician, he is uniquely positioned to act as our liaison with healthcare officials across the state.”
“Hawai‘i has a robust healthcare community that trains and actively prepares for these situations, but as we face a potential COVID-19 outbreak in Hawai‘i, it’s important to remember our healthcare community is our first line of defense,” said Green. “It’s imperative we do a full evaluation of their current supply and needs to ensure they’re supported and any gaps in preparedness are alleviated. I have a longstanding relationship with many in our healthcare community and look forward to working with them in this capacity.”
Meanwhile, the following National travel policies are in effect:
- The Department of State “Do Not Travel” advisories for China and Iran remain in effect, “Reconsider Travel” advisories have been issued for Italy, Mongolia, and South Korea, and “Exercise Increased Caution Travel” advisories continue for Hong Kong, Japan, and Macau.
- In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend you not travel to China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea.
- For your information, as the coronavirus conditions change rapidly, you should verify Department of State and CDC travel and health advisories for where you are going before finalizing your travel plans.