We had a great Economic Development Committee (EDC) meeting in October when our featured speaker was Mayor Kim. Given the uncertainties pertaining to airline travel, COVID outbreaks, and various impacts on the community and business, having the opportunity to directly ask Mayor Kim for his views on various issues led to a very informative meeting. Some of the takeaways from the meeting included –
- Due to safety, cost, and logistics concerns, Mayor Kim was reluctant to adopt inter-island travel measures similar to those used on other neighbor islands. It should be noted that the week following our EDC meeting Hawaii County adopted measures to enable inter-island flights, with the option of testing arriving passengers in lieu of quarantines
- Mayor Kim was quite concerned about recent surveys indicating Hawaii Island mask usage is <60% and among the lowest in the State. Until a vaccine is available, masks are among the most effective way to block the transmission of COVID, so he was strongly encouraging the community to promote mask usage.
- He noted that about 1 million masks at a cost of nearly 2 million dollars was being donated to Hawaii Island by billionaire tech entrepreneur Marc Benioff. Likewise, Benioff is donating 3 mobile test stations to the County. These extremely generous donations to our community are deeply appreciated.
- The infectious clusters on West Hawaii Island are particularly troublesome and the County is working hard to address those outbreaks.
Overall it was a productive exchange between EDC members, guests, and the Mayor to get the very latest on the complex and dynamic COVID situation on Hawaii Island.
Normally our monthly EDC meetings occur on the third Thursday of each month at 11:30 but the November meeting will be a joint meeting between the EDC and Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Committee. Our guest speakers will be Chancellor Bonnie Irwin and Vice Chancellor Kalei Rapoza, with a focus on the various impacts COVID is having on the University of Hawaii at Hilo. That special joint meeting will occur at 11:30 on November 3.