Editorial | On Politics Ige, Gabbard duel over when to pull ‘emergency’ trigger By Richard Borreca firstname.lastname@example.org Feb. 5, 2016 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Gov. David Ige better add mosquitoes to Hawaii’s stress index and to his own list of political dangers. Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Gov. David Ige better add mosquitoes to Hawaii’s stress index and to his own list of political dangers. A dengue fever outbreak is serious in any community and more so in a tropical, tourist-based economy depending on its reputation as a family-safe destination. Growing as fast as the fears of dengue are the new worries for women of childbearing age about being bitten by a mosquito infected with Zika virus. Last week, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called out the Ige administration in a press release, saying it is time for “aggressive action necessary to combat the spread of this serious disease. “An emergency proclamation from the governor is long overdue,” said Gabbard. Rather than hit the emergency button, Ige this week, with Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi and civil defense and health department officials, held a news conference to say that their own steady, sure course was doing OK. The governor said the feds had checked out the Hawaii operation and said it was doing a bang-up job of battling dengue. “I just wanted to remind everyone the Centers for Disease Control studied the issue and they were impressed,” Ige said. “They were overwhelmed at the amount of cooperation and coordination between the state and county operations; more importantly, that we were doing the right things and our response was appropriate.” That’s true, but it isn’t the entire story. The CDC report, written by scientists, not politicians, didn’t really say Hawaii found the right course of action; the CDC said Hawaii was working really hard. “All the state and county employees should be commended for their tireless work throughout the dengue outbreak,” the report said. “Employees have sacrificed personal time to assist with the outbreak and have volunteered their services to mitigate the outbreak.” When it came time to give a grade, the feds said, “The effectiveness of this strategy needs to be evaluated based on the following observations.” First, the CDC then said, dengue cases are popping up near households already treated, “suggesting that the vector control treatment area is not sufficient.” Also, the strategy of putting soapy water into standing ponds of water needs to be “evaluated in a real world setting,” because it doesn’t really work. Finally, the state and county workers are working so hard they may be “unable to maintain the current response rate for an extended period of time or if the case count increases.” Part of the reason the state and county workers are working so hard is because there are so few of them. The CDC report said before 2009 there was one entomologist and 15 vector control agents on the Big Island. Now there are just four vector personnel. It is not known if Gabbard saw a copy of the report before she asked Ige to declare an emergency, but her recommendations mirror the CDC’s, although she added that Ige should increase testing of those who suspect they have dengue and even call up National Guard medical personnel to set up mobile testing sites, get more mosquito traps and appoint a “dengue czar” to coordinate efforts with state, county, federal and private workers.” At the news conference, Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said he is “very close” to requesting an emergency declaration, but as of press time there had been no action. After the news conference, Gabbard’s response was to say, “Hawaii island residents … are begging for more resources and proactive action to be taken. … The time for action is now to deal with dengue fever and prevent the outbreak of something far worse.” The question is not whether dengue in Hawaii County is an emergency; the question is when will the state recognize it. Richard Borreca writes on politics on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Reach him at email@example.com. Previous Story Provide explanation for Pro Bowl fiasco Next Story Ke Kupa Pola: E nānā paha, ‘a‘ole paha?