Scott Saiki, the speaker of the Hawaii House of Representatives, told Gov. David Ige that the handling of the coronavirus pandemic “has been utterly chaotic and there is a mass confusion among the public.”

In his letter Thursday afternoon Saiki implored Ige to immediately shut down the state and require people to shelter in place.

“The number of positive test results is exponentially increasing on a daily basis,” Saiki wrote.

Cindy McMillan, the governor’s communications director, said in a statement, “Gov. Ige continues to work through all the options, including their potential benefits and consequences, to secure our islands and do what’s best for our communities.”

Speaker of the House Scott Saiki with guest Gov Ige on last day of session.
Speaker of the House Scott Saiki with guest Gov. David Ige on the last day of the 2019 legislative session. On Thursday Saiki implored Ige to step up his leadership on the coronavirus pandemic. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Saiki, however, wants the state shut down for the next 15 days and for Gen. Ken Hara, who leads the state’s Joint Incident Center, to take all necessary steps to ensure that the supply chain for basic necessities such as food, water, gas and medicine is secure.

As well, all travelers from outside of Hawaii would be quarantined for 15 days.

While Lt. Gov. Josh Green and county mayors have made similar recommendations, Saiki said that Ige, as governor, is the “only person in this state who has the direct authority to institute these actions. I implore you to take immediate action for the health, safety, and welfare of all the people of Hawaii.

Saiki’s letter came on the same day that a state senator tested positive for COVID-19, forcing lawmakers and staff to evacuate the Capitol and to seek medical testing.

In a related development, Ige’s office on Thursday issued a press release expressing support of the efforts of the four county mayors “to implement tailored actions that are suited for their counties.”

On Tuesday Ige directed the closure of bars and clubs but stopped short of issuing an executive order. He also asked restaurants to limit their service to takeout or drive-through.

“We all understand the dire nature of the challenges facing our state due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are moving together in our response,” said Ige.

Ultimately, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell ordered bars and restaurants to stop dine-in service as of Friday. Maui Mayor Michael Victorino banned dine-in service on that island. Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami implemented a curfew after 9 p.m.

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