Officials look to resolve shelter spacing issues and procedures for those COVID positive as Douglas nears

Tracking Douglas

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Unlike past hurricane events, under the COVID-19 pandemic, officials now have to consider how many people can be allowed in one shelter and what to do if someone seeking emergency shelter has COVID-19.

“The Department of Health does have available hotel rooms for isolation, so should there be a COVID positive resident in a shelter, we would look to move them and separate them and isolate them as quickly as possible,” said Gov. David Ige.

The governor said there’s also a need for more shelters to allow for social distancing.

“We know that in this COVID-19 environment we need to ID additional shelters because of the reduced capacity in all the previous shelters that we’ve used. We are working to build that network,” said Gov. Ige.

Building that network is up to the counties and the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.

[List: Emergency shelters expected to open in the state]

“We have been working on a number of planning efforts with [the counties] to help coordinate and look at various impacts for different scenarios for each of our counties depending on the strength of the storm,” said Luke Meyers with HIEMA.

The City and County of Honolulu has not released any information on emergency shelters yet. Officials say they are still monitoring the storm to predict which areas could be impacted. However, the City has found 25 potential shelter sites and said it is starting to staff those areas.

The Red Cross said staffing is still a work in progress.

“We are encouraging everyone. We still do have the need. We’ve been hearing from folks, but there’s still a great need for more people to come forward,” said Diane Peters-Nguyen, CEO of the Red Cross in the pacific island region.

The Red Cross said that it has been receiving calls since Thursday, but there are still some key positions needed to be filled as soon as possible because they will have to be trained.

“There’s a certain amount of training that’s required. So if we don’t have time to do that before hurricane Douglas makes landfall, then we would find other ways that they can volunteer,” said Peters-Nguyen.

More information on emergency shelters for Maui and Oahu will be announced Saturday.

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