SEN. GABBARD CALLS ON GOVERNOR TO DO MORE TO PREVENT SWINE FLU FROM REACHING HAWAII

HONOLULU -April 28, 2009- Senator Mike Gabbard (District 19, Makakilo, Kapolei, Waipahu) called a press conference today to express concerns about the Governor’s handling of the swine flu virus entering Hawai’i.

Gabbard said, "I'm calling on the people of Hawai'i to join me in demanding that the Governor and her Administration do everything that they can and should be doing to protect the people of Hawai'i from the swine flu virus. Based on what I've seen, they've handed over that responsibility to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has not even seen fit to formulate and institute a policy for Hawaii that is different from the mainland."

Gabbard commented that at a press conference yesterday, the state administration admitted they were only taking passive action at the state’s airports and that the swine flu virus will inevitably enter Hawai’i. "I was surprised to hear the Governor parroting words from the CDC and telling people to be concerned but not alarmed. What's her point, that we care but we're not going to do anything about it?"

“The state administration is basically sitting on its hands until after it’s too late,” Gabbard said. “Hawai’i is extremely fortunate that we’re isolated from the rest of the country and the world. The only way this virus can come to Hawai’i is by air and water. So we should be having a full court press to prevent that from happening. A few measures that the administration could be implementing immediately are:

  1. Taking the temperature of incoming passengers using quick, non-invasive procedures.
  2. Passengers coming from Mexico need to be more carefully screened.
  3. Right now, passengers fill out agricultural/customs forms when they arrive. Why not make an announcement on each flight, and have them fill out an additional health declaration questionnaire detailing whether they have any symptoms and where they have travelled in the last week.
  4. Distribute an info sheet to airline passengers and hotel guests with a hotline number to call if they develop symptoms in the next 10 days.

Gabbard said: “Hawai’i is in a unique situation. We’re not in the same position as other states. It’s a sign of laziness and irresponsibility not to have our own policies based on our unique situation Other island states such as Japan and Hong Kong are responding aggressively at their points of entry, why can’t we? We're a group of isolated islands and we can prevent it from coming here if our state leaders simply have the commitment and determination to do so."

Gabbard concluded, “An ounce of prevention is going to be worth many, many tons of the cure. We can and must do more.”

Please contact me if I can help you. My phone is 586-6830 and e-mail is sengabbard@capitol.hawaii.gov. Mahalo for the privilege of serving you!