Hawaii 24/7 Staff
Mayor Billy Kenoi declared a state of emergency due to the dengue fever outbreak, which began in summer 2015 and has at least 250 confirmed cases across the Big Island.
However, despite urging by county officials and an outcry by the general public, Gov. David Ige declined to follow suit.
On Monday, Kenoi signed and issued the following proclamation:
WHEREAS, Chapter 127A of the Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) provides for the establishment of County organizations for emergency management and disaster relief with the Mayor having direct responsibility and authority over emergency management within the County; and
WHEREAS, pursuant to Chapter 127A, HRS, Chapter 7 of the Hawaii County Code, and Section 13-23 of the Hawaii County Charter, the Mayor of the County is empowered to declare a state of emergency when an emergency or disaster has occurred or that there is imminent danger or threat of an emergency or disaster in any portion of the County; and
WHEREAS, dengue fever is a virus that is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, and although not endemic to Hawaii, is intermittently imported to Hawaii by infected travelers; and
WHEREAS, on October 29, 2015, the State Department of Health reported two confirmed cases of dengue fever originating on Hawaii Island; and
WHEREAS, as of February 5, 2016 the total number of confirmed cases of dengue fever on Hawaii Island has increased to 250, with the latest estimated onset of illness occurring on or about February 1, 2016; and
WHEREAS, State and County officials continue to undertake mosquito control measures and to engage in public education and outreach efforts; and
WHEREAS, reducing the mosquito population and protecting people from mosquito bites is the only way to break the cycle of dengue infection and transmission; and
WHEREAS, a state of emergency for Hawaii County is authorized in order to prevent the continued spread of this outbreak and to eliminate the dengue fever virus from Hawaii island;
NOW, THEREFORE, pursuant to Chapter 127A, HRS, Chapter 7, Hawaii County Code, and Section 13-23 of the Hawaii County Charter, I, WILLIAM P. KENOI, Mayor of the County of Hawaii, do hereby proclaim a state of emergency for Hawaii County, and pursuant to HRS Section 127A-13(b)(2), suspend the following county law to the extent necessary to effectively control and eliminate the dengue fever virus on Hawaii Island:
a. Hawaii County Code Section 20-46(b) insofar as it prohibits the acceptance of tires at County landfills.
I FURTHER DECLARE that this emergency period shall commence immediately and continue thereon for 60 days or until further act by this office.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the County of Hawaii to be affixed. Done this 8th day of February in Hilo, Hawaii.
Also Monday, Ige’s office issued the following statement:
The state supports the county’s effort to break the cycle of dengue fever infection and transmission on Hawaii Island. Our number one priority is the health and safety of Hawaii’s residents and visitors. We will continue to work with county officials on a daily basis.
The state will issue an emergency proclamation if and when conditions meet the following criteria:
* The dengue outbreak requires additional resources beyond current levels
* The dengue outbreak has spread to other islands
* The outbreak has expanded to include zika and other vector borne diseases
* It is necessary to waive certain laws and regulations
* The state determines it will need federal assistance
At this time, the state is working to release the State Health Department’s 5 percent budget restriction ($250,000) to fund eight vector control positions, one entomologist and one communications position.
The state previously released another 5 percent ($250,000) restriction so the department could fund costs incurred while responding to the onset of the dengue outbreak.
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