Big Island Coronavirus Updates

Exclusive Interview: Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth Discusses Critical Issues Facing Hawaiʻi County Today

August 18, 2021, 11:35 AM HST
* Updated August 19, 7:45 AM
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Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth sits down with Pacific Media Group COO and Big Island Now Director, Jack Dugan to address some of the greatest challenges facing the county today.

In an interview with Big Island Now, Mayor Mitch Roth described that when he was elected as mayor in 2020 that creating jobs would be the biggest challenge in his new role. However, the COVID-19 pandemic proved otherwise, transforming the economy in very unexpected ways.

“One of the biggest things I see right now – COVID is a big challenge – is trying to get people to work in the jobs. We have an employment shortage. There’s a lot of hotels, restaurants and others trying to find employees. We have a lot of jobs, just not enough employees,” said Mayor Roth.

Mayor Roth described that the pandemic also exposed the need for infrastructure and the need to bring them back to a “decent standard.”

The mayor addressed reports concerning Hawai’i County hospitals and the shortage of healthcare workers.

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“What I saw was emergency rooms that are very busy, I think Kona Community Hospital said that they normally would have 50 people in a day and they are up to 70 people in a day. The same thing with Hilo Medical Center, the numbers that they are seeing are really huge numbers. HMC told me that they had people having to spend the night and up to two days in the ER because there was no space in the ICUs,” said Mayor Roth.

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Watch the video above for the full interview with Mayor Roth as he addresses the following Hawai’i County issues in detail:

  • Current Status of Hawaiʻi County
  • Hospital Capacity
  • Infrastructure
  • Tourism and Resource Management
  • Employment
  • Real Estate and Affordable Housing

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