Hawaiʻi Island Delegation Letter to Mayor Kim

A Hawaii Island delegation of elected officials have sent the following letter to Hawaii Mayor Kim requesting immediate action in response to the public health concerns regarding the Corona virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) on Friday, March 20, 2020:

Dear Mayor Kim,

To protect the residents of the County of Hawaiʻi and the long-term stability of our island economy, we implore you to immediately order the shut-down of non-essential county government operations and the sheltering-in-place of all people throughout the County of Hawai‘i.

As Mayor of the County of Hawai’i, we strongly urge you to take the following immediate actions through an Emergency Proclamation and Emergency Rule(s):

  • Institute an immediate countywide shut down for the next fifteen (15) days.
  • Order all people in the County of Hawai‘i to shelter-in-place for the next 15 days and coordinate with the Joint Incident Center under the command of the Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency Director/Adjutant General Kenneth Hara to immediately use his authority under the March 16, 2020, Emergency Supplementary Proclamation by Governor Ige to take all necessary steps and required means to ensure that the supply chain for basic necessities — such as food, medicine, water, communications, gasoline, cargo and public safety throughout the County of Hawaiʻi — is secure.
  • Request Director/Adjutant General Hara to secure and requisition any needed hospital and medical supplies that are necessary to assist with the coming need to treat individuals due to COVID-19, at all available Hawaiʻi Island medical facilities.
  • In coordination with Governor Ige, order the quarantine of all travelers arriving from outside Hawaiʻi at the Hilo and Kona International Airports for a minimum of 15 days.
  • Prohibit all non-essential inter-island and out-of-state travel from Hawaiʻi Island.
  • In coordination with Governor Ige, require the immediate closure of all public and private schools, daycare centers, preschools, the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Hawaiʻi Community College and Hawaiʻi Community College Pālamanui.
  • Require the immediate closure of all County facilities and workspaces, and send home all non-essential County of Hawaiʻi personnel for the duration of the shut down.
  • Limit County of Hawai‘i work to only essential personnel, provided they are equipped with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and adhere to spatial distancing guidelines and preventive measures as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

As Mayor, you are the only person who has the direct authority to institute these actions. As state legislators, we passed and continue to support the delegated authority provided to the counties under Hawai`i Revised Statutes (HRS) Chapter 127, which grants you, as Mayor, the power to act in emergency situations such as the unprecedented one we face today. The entire Hawaiʻi Island delegation is speaking with one collective voice, and we implore you to take immediate action for the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of the County of Hawai‘i.

Sincerely,

Senator Kaiali‘i Kahele, Senator Russell E. Ruderman, Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha, and Senator Lorraine R. Inouye

Representative Mark M. Nakashima, Representative Chris Todd, Representative Richard H.K. Onishi. Representative Joy A. San Buenaventura, Representative Richard P. Creagan, Representative Nicole E. Lowen, and Representative David A. Tarnas

Mayor Kim to Declare October “Stop the Ant” Month in Hawaii County

This Friday, September 29th, Mayor Harry Kim will sign a proclamation declaring the month of October “Stop the Ant Month” for Hawaii County.

The Big Island will be joining with the rest of the state in an effort to raise awareness about the threat of little fire ants in Hawaii. The tiny pest, first detected in Puna in 1999, has been confirmed in every district on Hawaii Island and populations have been found on Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.

Little fire ants are considered a threat not just because of their painful sting, but also due to their impacts on agriculture and threat to food security. Little fire ants are associated with plant pests such as aphids and mealy bugs, and have driven farmers in other Pacific islands to abandon their farms. They are also associated with cloudiness and blinding in the eyes of domestic animals, including dogs, cats, and horses.

On the Big Island, residents have been very active in working to reduce LFA populations and mitigate the threat. In the last two years alone, over 2,000 Hawaii islanders have attended training on LFA control provided by BIISC or the Hawaii Ant Lab. More than two dozen neighborhoods are currently working on a year-long plan to eradicate the ants from localized areas.

Stop the Ant month is an effort to urge all residents of the state of Hawaii to survey their property for little fire ants. Because the ants are tiny (less than 1/16th of an inch) they are difficult to see. Ants can be present for six months ore more before they reach noticeable levels, and many people mistakenly believe the ants are not present because they have not yet been stung.

To remain fire ant-free, Big Island residents should survey for fire ants using peanut butter and chopsticks 4 times a year. Infestations can be controlled, but require regular and consistent effort.

More information can be found at StopTheAnt.org.