Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi issued an emergency proclamation Monday to help bolster efforts to combat the ongoing dengue outbreak.
There have been 250 confirmed cases of dengue on the Big Island since the outbreak started in October.
The proclamation has been expected since last week, when Hawaii County officials said that they were close to making such a move.
“It’s not because we don’t have control of the situation or a shortage of resources currently,” Darryl Oliveira, administrator of Hawaii County’s Civil Defense Agency, said on Feb. 2. “We’d like to stay ahead of the response.”
As a part of the proclamation, Kenoi suspended a county law that prohibits people from disposing of tires at public landfills. Tires are attractive places for mosquitoes to breed, and the county’s waste management program had already created a temporary amnesty program allowing residents to dispose of up to 10 tires a day.
The dengue outbreak is the biggest in Hawaii since the 1940s.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health have both sent specialists to Hawaii Island to help with the outbreak.
The CDC has praised Hawaii for its coordinated response, but warned that the Department of Health had “critical deficiencies” in staffing that could hamper future efforts should another outbreak occur.
UPDATED: Gov. David Ige said in a written statement Monday afternoon that the state would follow suit and declare a state of emergency if the outbreak spread to additional islands, if Hawaii Island required “additional resources beyond current levels” to address the outbreak, or if the state needed federal assistance.
Gov. David Ige and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, shown here at a Feb. 2 press conference, have both praised the state and county’s coordinated response to the dengue outbreak.