Gov. David Ige has asked lawmakers to earmark $7.21 million for the next four months to support state efforts to cope with the threat posed by the coronavirus outbreak.
Lawmakers said they received a message from Ige this morning seeking money for the state Department of Health and Department of Defense to fund activities such as surveillance of potential coronavirus encounters, quarantine, and “enhanced communication strategies” for both the general population and populations most at risk for infection.
The money would also help the state prepare for “intensive source control if local epicenters in Hawaii are identified, including isolation of patients and persons” with the virus, according to the message.
“If widespread community transmission is established, there should then be consideration of transition to include mitigation activities” such as canceling public gatherings, closing schools, remote working, home isolation” and monitoring of patients by phone, according to the governor’s message.
The initial appropriation of money will be handled by the state Senate, while the House will advance a separate bill to set aside money for similar activities for the year that begins July 1. House Finance Committee Chairwoman Sylvia Luke said she does not know how much money will be earmarked for next year.
“I believe so far the state has done a good job in trying to monitor and do quarantine containment, and at this point in time we’re unaware of any specific incidences of the virus (in Hawaii),” Luke told members of the House Finance Committee this afternoon.
“This also signals to the international community that because Hawaii is boosting up our efforts to do better containment, it will ease some of the angst in travel as well,” Luke told the committee.
Ige’s request includes $800,000 for a multi-media communication campaign, and $200,000 for quarantine and “self-monitoring” to include people who are not residents of the state or may people who “not have a viable home situation,” according to Ige’s message.
Another $1.3 million would be earmarked for laboratory testing, and $2.5 million will be set aside for disease outbreak surveillance and response, according to the message.
And $1.18 million would be earmarked for the DOD emergency response, including money for forehead and ear thermometers and personal protective equipment for responders, according to the message.