Gabbard: Ige’s Declaration ‘Recognition of Seriousness of Hawaiʻi Island Outbreak’
Representative Tulsi Gabbard commented on Governor David Ige’s proclamation declaring an emergency against mosquito-borne illnesses in the state on Friday.
The Congresswoman sent out a statement late Friday, noting that Governor Ige’s proclamation “recognizes the important and urgency of the situation.”
“This proclamation and ensuing release of resources, personnel, and tools to take important action steps within our communities on Hawaiʻi Island are critical steps toward eradicating this disease-spreading mosquito, getting rid of dengue, and preventing the Zika virus from taking hold,” said Representative Gabbard. “Hawaiʻi Island residents and guests deserve aggressive coordinated action from all levels of government, the private sector, and healthcare providers. The increasing number of cases, which grew to 255 today [Friday], continues to impact the health and safety of our people and the economy.”
Representative Gabbard went on to note that she is looking forward to working with Governor Ige and Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi’s team to address other issues that the community has identified as problematic. These issues, according to Representative Gabbard, include completely free testing for dengue and the timeliness of getting results.
“The difference is really going to be felt when these resources are deployed to the communities hardest hit. Miloliʻi is one hotspot where new cases are still being confirmed,” said Representative Gabbard. “Residents there found that their water catchment systems are problematic breeding grounds and require immediate work and treatment.
“It will cost $112,000 to do this, and they do not have the ability to fund this themselves. This is a prime example of why these resources are so urgently needed—to fund effective measures that will eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. There is no time to waste.”
Under Governor Ige’s emergency proclamation, the state will have access to the Major Disaster Fund. In addition, certain laws and regulations may be waived to expedite the outbreak response if and when it is needed. An emergency proclamation also paves the way for the potential of federal assistance if state funds are drained.
On Wednesday, Representative Gabbard spoke on the House floor to urge support for and passage of President Obama’s emergency request for $1.8 billion to prepare and respond to the Zika virus. The congresswoman also called for federal funding to fight dengue fever in Hawaiʻi, carried by the same aedes aegypti mosquitoes as the Zika virus.
At the end of January, Representative Gabbard called on Governor Ige to declare the dengue fever outbreak a state of emergency and to deploy State resources, including the National Guard, to assist with mosquito abatement, public information, clearing of mosquito breeding areas, and providing completely free and accessible testing for those with suspected symptoms.