Honolulu - Hawai‘i State Senate President Ron Kouchi (D-Kauai) issued the following statement today:
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, residents in our State and throughout the United States are being asked to make enormous sacrifices in their normal daily lives through “social distancing,” to “flatten the curve” of the spread of COVID-19. “Social distancing” means canceling events, closing businesses, and reducing interaction with other people to stop the spread of an infectious disease. “Flattening the curve” is an attempt to reduce the pressure that infected people place upon limited medical resources in a pandemic.
We are an island state whose primary economic engine is the tourist industry, and social distancing is having an incredibly detrimental impact on our residents' lives. However painful these limiting actions are on all of us, ignoring this important mitigation control activity and proceeding on with an attitude of doing business as usual will lead to uncontrollable chaos if COVID-19 spreads throughout our island communities.
The unchecked spread of COVID-19 in Hawai‘i will lead to a huge number of very sick people who will place an impossible burden on limited medical resources for our residents. Unchecked and rampant COVID-19 cases will require medical professionals to make a true “Sophie's Choice” – to choose which patient will be allowed to receive appropriate medical services in favor of any other patient. These impossible choices will not only be made between COVID-19 patients but will also apply to patients with other severe medical conditions.
Our communities on islands other than O‘ahu: Kauai County, Maui County, and Hawai‘i County, are essentially rural in nature and their medical resources are severely limited. To preserve these limited medical resources for rural community residents and to flatten the curve of the effects of COVID-19, I strongly support Governor David Ige's March 17, 2020 statement that all non-Hawai‘i residents should practice social distancing by staying in their own communities and not come to Hawai‘i at this time.