(BIVN) – Hilo State Senator Kai Kahele has deep concerns following Governor David Ige’s order that all arrivals into Hawaiʻi must quarantine for 14-days, starting on Thursday, March 26.
In a letter to the governor, Sen. Kahele criticized the timing of the quarantine going into effect and the procedures that will be used to carry out the mandate.
Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear Governor Ige,
I am writing to express my deep concern over the determinations, designations, and proclamations set forth in the Second Supplementary Proclamation, relating to the COVID-19 emergency, issued on March 21, 2020. I am gravely alarmed by the section of the order that invokes a mandatory self-quarantine of all individuals entering the State of Hawai‘i set to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 26, 2020. Specifically, the following concerns should be urgently addressed by your administration and the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency:
There are hundreds of flights and thousands of passengers arriving in the State of Hawai‘i both on U.S. domestic routes and international routes between the signing of the proclamation on March 21, 2020 and the time when the proclamation will go into effect on March 26, 2020. Are any of these passengers being screened at the point of departure and/or the point of arrival? Are we screening these passengers at our airports with temporal scanners and/or requiring them to fill out forms that identify wether they have flu-like symptoms, have been directly exposed to anyone diagnosed with COVID-19, and what their travel plans will be while in the islands? Are we capturing their names, addresses, and phone numbers in case they need to be contacted by a health professional? Do you have a 100% accountability for all commercial aircraft arriving in the State of Hawai‘i with passengers between now and 12:01 a.m. on March 26, 2020?
It was indicated that the procedure for incoming passengers will be to fill out the State of Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture Declaration Form as a means for tracking and accounting for individuals entering the State of Hawai‘i when the quarantine goes into effect. What is the procedure for international arrivals? International flights do not require the State of Hawai‘i Agriculture Form for international passengers or crew members when inbound to Hawai‘i. What form will be provided to them? Additionally, a Hawaii Business Magazine article from 2015 references Jim Dannemiller, president of SMS Research, the firm contracted to scan and process the forms, admitting that “the completion rate 1s less than half.’ What enforcement procedures do you plan to institute to ensure incoming passengers are completing the forms accurately and honestly?
What is the procedure for private and corporate jets should they choose to fly to the State of Hawai‘i both from the U.S. mainland or international locations? Many of these aircraft have already begun arriving on every island, including Lana‘i, where there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19. Will they also require self-quarantine? How are we communicating with these private owners? Are we coordinating with the FAA to ensure when a flight plan 1s filed to Hawai‘i by a private jet owner or company that the flight plan information 1s provided to the state so officials can meet the aircraft upon arrival, process paperwork, and ensure the quarantine procedures are known and complied with by incoming passengers? Are those passengers being screened by a health professional when they arrive in the State of Hawai‘i?
What are the specific enforcement procedures to ensure that the individuals in a mandatory self-quarantine actually comply with the order? It was stated at the press conference that enforcement would be handled by the individual counties. Can you please explain exactly what that means? What resources or state law enforcement officers will be provided to supplement local law enforcement to enforce this order throughout the individuals quarantine period on the various islands?
The order specifically identifies “all persons entering the State of Hawai‘i” and its primary focus is air travel but have you identified boats, vessels and yachts that are in transit to the State of Hawai‘i. Will the quarantine apply to those passengers as well? How will that be executed by your administration? Just over the past few days, several U.S. vessels have attempted to enter Manele Small Boat Harbor on Lana‘i from Oregon, Washington and the other Hawaiian Islands. What is your administration doing to immediately address this issue?
Like many other states and governors that have issued similar orders, you stated this order does not apply to pilots or flight crews. What is the State and your administration doing working with the airline industry to ensure that flight crews are provided the minimum personal protective equipment (PPE‘s) while they fly and perform their duties in confined spaces throughout the aircraft. What are their procedures during their layovers especially those flying to locations with major outbreaks of the COVID-19 virus?
It is my hope the information I provided in this letter will be immediately discussed and addressed by your administration and the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency. Just today, Sunday, March 22, 2020, nearly a hundred flights and hundreds of passengers have come into the State of Hawai‘i, many from locations with COVID-19 outbreaks. To not remediate this situation until 12:01 am on March 26, 2020 is to further put the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the State of Hawai‘i at grave risk. Unfortunately for us all, this imminent threat requires immediate draconian measures. There is no avoiding the reality that further delay in definitive action will cost lives in the near future.
For the safety of all our families and residents, I implore you to take action immediately.
Sen. Kahele is running for Hawaiʻi’s 2nd Congressional District House seat, currently occupied by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who recently suspended her 2020 campaign for U.S. president. Gabbard also issued a statement about Governor Ige’s proclamation:
Governor Ige has already unnecessarily endangered the people of Hawaii by not instituting this 14-day quarantine for visitors and residents coming to Hawaii over two weeks ago when the state of emergency was declared.
Now his delay of implementing this quarantine for another 5 days, which is an eternity when it comes to this disease, all because he doesn’t want to inconvenience visitors who may need to cancel their reservations, is the height of irresponsibility.
People’s health and lives are at stake here! The quarantine needs to be implemented now—not 5 days from now.
It is frustrating and infuriating that at a time when I and so many others are working every day to try to get our healthcare workers masks and other protective equipment, the governor refuses to take the necessary action to stop people coming from the mainland and infecting more local residents.
We are already behind the curve because the governor didn’t implement the quarantine policy weeks ago. So allowing people to come here for five more days without going into quarantine is insane and will make an already dire situation worse.
Unfortunately our leaders are trying to lull the people of Hawaii into a false sense of security by saying that incoming travelers will be “screened” — but there is no effective screening since they can be carriers without any obvious symptoms.
This kind of dishonesty by our leaders is not helpful, and reminds me of the lie that our leaders propagated during the false missile alert that said: ‘seek immediate shelter’ knowing full well that they had not provided us with any shelter.
When our leaders fail to act in the best interest of the people of Hawaii, then we must take care of each other and stand up for each other. We need to do this right now by demanding that the governor immediately put the wellbeing of Hawaii’s people first and implement this 14-day quarantine immediately. Not four to five days from now.
First — call, email, text, or tweet the governor, and let him know how you feel.
Second — airlines need to stop flying visitors into our state.
Third — hotels need to temporarily close. If they refuse to close, workers should stay home. Tour buses need to stop operating, and rental car companies need to stop renting cars to visitors.
Companies that put profits ahead of the health and wellbeing of the people of Hawaii need to know that we will never forget where you stood when it mattered most.