Representatives Visit New Coronavirus Investigation Center at Hawaii Convention Center
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – State Representatives participated in a walk-through tour of the Department of Health’s expanded COVID-19 Investigation Operations Center at the Hawaiʻi Convention Center today. As the state’s positive coronavirus cases continue to reach triple digits daily, the need for improved contact tracing and disease investigation has become critical. Moving the operations to the Convention Center has allowed for additional space and increased staff for COVID-19 investigation and contact tracing.
Legislators who visited the new investigation operations center include Representatives Della Au Belatti, John M. Mizuno, Ty J.K. Cullen and Linda Ichiyama. Dr. Emily Roberson, Chief of the Department of Health’s Disease Investigations Branch, led the tour.
Dr. Roberson presented a multi-prong strategy of restructuring and realigning existing resources to maximize responsiveness to the changing nature of the pandemic. The strategy includes surge staff with varied skill sets, improved equipment and information technology infrastructure, and streamlined processes and procedures.
“Their operations are fluid and evolving in the most efficient manner. I have confidence and offer my full support of the expanded program,” said Representative John M. Mizuno, Chair for the House Health Committee. “My minor regret is that the Department of Health should have supported this robust operation two months ago when we had a daily average of double digit new COVID-19 cases.”
The surge staffing integrates Department of Health employees with National Guard members and individuals trained by the University of Hawai‘i School of Nursing contact tracing program into disease investigation teams.
“I support this strategic realigning of our state’s contact tracing and disease investigation programs at the Convention Center,” said House Majority Leader Representative Della Au Belatti. “DOH and HI-EMA are anticipating more positive cases from the current surge testing underway on Oʻahu. The teams of disease investigation specialists, contact tracers, and case and contact monitoring specialists that DOH and HI-EMA are ramping up will be stressed but will be utilized to handle the expected surge in positive cases.
“Containing the transmission of COVID-19 will only be effective if we all work together and we need the public’s support. If you receive a call from a contact tracer, it is important that you provide requested information and comply with isolation recommendations to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and our island communities.”