coronavirus with waikiki in the backdrop

Hawaiʻi needs to quickly adopt and implement a plan to control and then halt the spread of the coronavirus or the cost in terms of lives and damage to the economy will be catastrophic. A recent policy brief by the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization outlines how the state can accomplish this.

The 1918 Spanish flu pandemic had an infection rate of 28 percent and a death rate of 2.5 percent for the infected population. If the coronavirus follows the same path in penetrating Hawaiʻi’s current population of 1.4 million, it would lead to 9,800 deaths.

UHERO lays out the roles of the federal and state governments to prevent an economic collapse and control the pandemic. Given this general framework, Hawaiʻi’s chosen plan should then take into account the state’s special characteristics that should give it some advantages in facing these challenges compared to states on the mainland.

“The ability to isolate Hawaiʻi’s eight islands is critical for our response to the coronavirus crisis because it provides the necessary conditions for the Hawaiʻi state government to focus exclusively over the next few months on the health of Hawaiʻi residents and not worry about new arrivals who carry the disease circulating among the population,” says the report.

Read the full policy brief (PDF).