Governor David Ige says he has activated four units of the Hawaii National Guard as more medical supplies arrive in the state. As the pandemic continues, troops might also be used for other duties such as law enforcement.
“Effective immediately, there will be more than 250 men and women on state active duty. They will provide assistance to the Hawaii Emergency Management Operations Center, the State of Hawaii’s Joint Information Center, and support the receiving and distribution of medical supplies and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) from the national strategic stockpile,” said the governor.
The National Guard has been called on for other disasters in the past, including the Kilauea volcano eruption on the Big Island. In that case, troops provided support for law enforcement. And officials say that might be the case again for this ongoing disaster.
“We believe we may be needed to assist in providing support to law enforcement for security and also law enforcement of the supplemental proclamation and executive orders,” said Brigadier General Moses Kaoiwi of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
Kaoiwi says the National Guard is already being used at security checkpoints on Kauai. And starting Monday, soldiers will be at the airports helping with screening. He adds that troops may also be needed to help clean and disinfect important government sites if needed, down the line.
The governor also announced more measures aimed at visitors. Even though travel has been drastically reduced, there are still those who come to Hawaii with no place to stay.
“Yesterday, I instructed Director Hara that if anyone arrives at our airports without a place to stay, they will be immediately sent back,” said Gov. Ige.
HIEMA Director Kenneth Hara says if the visitor doesn’t want to go back, they will be arrested.