Hawaii State Senate President Ron Kouchi joined the COVID-19 Care Conversation to share updates today.
Kouchi said that Gov. David Ige’s decision to lift the mandatory 14-day quarantine for trans-Pacific passengers who test negative for COVID-19 72 hours prior to arrival in Hawaii was made through a multi-layered assessment. He stressed the importance of not only the case count, but also the availability of hospital beds, ICU units, and ventilators.
Kouchi said that while the pre-arrival testing program details need to be finalized, the announcement provides hoteliers and airline companies lead time to prepare and take bookings. State officials will be working to finalize guidelines and ensure pre-arrival testing will be available through various providers on the mainland, especially given the fact that testing rules and locations vary state-to-state.
Kouchi understands the community’s concerns about the potential for a second wave when out-of-state travel reopens. He reiterated that there is no “one silver bullet” to provide 100% prevention of the coronavirus, but that the pre-arrival testing program and other health screenings such as thermal scanners, will significantly reduce the risk. State health officials have continued to say that Hawaii is well-prepared for a possible surge in cases.
“We need to get people back to work,” said Kouchi. He spoke about mental health issues, concerns about domestic violence, the financial pressure and other stresses that individuals are experiencing due to the loss of work.
When asked about the possible pay raises for public workers, Kouchi said, “it’s a tough situation.” He explained that a number of these employees are police dispatchers, nurses, and other essential workers who have been on the front lines during this pandemic. Kouchi said, “In a crisis, there are no easy decisions. There are difficult decisions and harder decisions.”
Kouchi reminded the community that the best thing they can do is to continue practicing social distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands. He said wearing a mask is to respect and protect other people. It shows your neighbor “I respect you. I love you. And we both want to get through this healthy,” he said.
In closing, Kouchi paid respect to the late State Sen. Breen Harimoto, speaking to his strength, courage, and conviction. “He is one of the strongest persons that I have ever met,” he said. “He is a tremendous role model.”
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Join the COVID-19 Care Conversation, live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji will discuss the latest news, resources and community concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.
The COVID-19 Care Conversation, sponsored by Hawai’i Executive Collaborative and Hawaii Pacific Health, airs live every weekday at 10:30 a.m. on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s Facebook page. Yunji de Nies and Ryan Kalei Tsuji discuss the latest news, resources and community concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in Hawaii.