(BIVN) – The 1,200 Hawaiʻi National Guardsmen deployed to help with the COVID-19 response are spreading out across the state.
Video recorded by the Hawaiʻi Department of Defense and released to the public on Friday shows members of the Hawaiʻi National Guard being transported from Oʻahu to neighbor islands on a C-17 Globemaster III. Military transport was utilized to minimize exposure to disease at airports, state officials say.
Adjutant General Kenneth Hara, the incident commander at the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency, talked to state senators about the overall strategy during a recent meeting of the Special Committee on COVID-19.
“Our center of gravity is responsiveness; to be able to be respond. We cannot be late to need,” said Gen. Hara. “If we need additional hospital capacity, when they need it, it needs to be there. But to build that responsiveness, we need to anticipate the needs. And once we me anticipate the needs, then we need to have the people, the equipment, the supplies, and the training in place, so then – when they do ask for this – then we are ready to go the very next day.”
“At some point we got to open the state up, right?” Gen. Hara said in response to senate concerns that the state might lift current stay-at-home and air travel restrictions too soon. “To be able to do that, I gotta have a plan. It doesn’t mean I’m gonna do it tomorrow. Maybe it’s two months. There’s certain indicators that will tell … the governor can start relaxing certain policies. But I gotta have that planning framework in place. I gotta start now.”
“I’m begging everyone you out there in the community,” Gen. Hara said, looking at the video camera in the room. “Follow the social distancing.”
“Going out running and I still see people out there congregating in small parks right next to each other,” Gen. Hara said. “I was on a video teleconference and I see people hugging each other. We gotta stop that for now. We got to keep that distance so we don’t spread.”