(BIVN) – Hilo State Senator Kai Kahele took to Facebook on Thursday night, updating friends and constituents on the worsening COVID-19 situation and its impact to Hawaiʻi island.
The pandemic is also hitting close to home for Kahele and his family, after they received the word that fellow State Senator Clarence K. Nishihara has come down with a case of the coronavirus.
The State Senate announced on Thursday:
Hawai‘i State Senator Clarence K. Nishihara was informed today that he has tested positive for COVID-19, and he informed his colleagues and staff.
This is the first known case of COVID-19 at the Hawaii State Capitol building.
Senate President Ron Kouchi sent a memo to all staff informing them of the positive test result.
The memo recommends all Senate offices close until further notice. More information will be provided as it becomes available.
Senator Nishihara is a Democrat in his fourth term who represents Waipahu, Crestview, Manana, Pearl City, and Pacific Palisades on the island of O‘ahu.
Kahele, who is going to be tested today, said “it really hit home because I’m thinking about my kids, my wife, my mom who’s in her mid-70’s. My sister, her kids. We all live here together here in Hilo up in Waiakea Uka. My thoughts immediately went to them and what would I do?”
“I have no flu-like symptoms,” Kahele said. “I don’t have a fever. I’m not coughing. We just checked my temperature, it’s 97.7. My intent is to get tested tomorrow at Hilo Medical Center.”
Kahele spent most of his hour-long livestream talking about the impacts of COVID-19 to the Hawaiʻi economy and way of life.
“What we’re seeing right now is completely unprecedented,” Kahele said, after spending three hours on a teleconference with over 60 representatives from government and industry. “You got to go back to like World War 2, which not many of us weren’t alive back then, or 1918 when the Spanish Flu hit the world and the country, to even compare anything happening to our economy, and our country, and our very fabric and way of life that’s happening right now.”
“Right now, our hotel industry is on the verge of bankruptcy,” Kahele reported. “There’s no other way to put it. They have not seen such a dramatic drop of hotel occupancy rates in its entire history. Right now, hotel occupancy rates are down to about 22% and they’re estimating they’re gonna drop to 10 to 12 percent over the next three months.”
The State Senate Special Committee on COVID-19 also held its first meeting on Thursday, and shared the following information about its findings:
The Airport Division of the Department of Transportation agreed with the committee’s recommendation to include a new 14-day quarantine of any airline passengers.
- This is a difficult action, but necessary to flatten the curve of COVID-19 and keep the people of Hawaii safe.
- The committee strongly urged the Governor to endorse this plan and put it into action immediately.
- The plan will require hiring or reassigning approximately 500 people and cost approximately $1 million per month.
The Harbors Division of the Department of Transportation, as of March 18, 2020, will no longer allow cruise ship passengers to disembark in Hawaii.
- Cruise ships are being allowed to come into Hawai‘i ports to refuel and resupply, but only Hawai‘i resident passengers will be allowed to disembark.
- This ban on cruise ship passengers will be in place for the next 30 to 60 days at a minimum.
- This ban on cruise ship passengers will not impact cargo shipping to the islands. There are safety protocols in place regarding cargo shipping, but none of those protocols or the cruise ship passenger ban will impact the delivery of needed consumer goods to Hawai‘i.
The Department of Health has launched a new website with guidance on the COVID-19 pandemic and updates on the virus within Hawai‘i:
As of today, Hawaii now has 26 positive cases.
- The ten most recent positive cases come from private lab testing.
So far, private labs have carried out approximately 1,000 tests, whereas the State has only carried out 40 tests.
- The State has been focusing only on seriously ill cases.
However, the private sector labs are reporting that they are running low on supplies.
- Dr. Anderson told the committee that the State is “urging people to limit the number of tests being done and to not test those who are not ill.”