Damage estimate spurs anti-flu effort
State ads will spread advice on preventing flu pandemic
» Hawaii would be hit hard in pandemic, study says
The state is launching a campaign to let people know what to do in case of an influenza pandemic and how to be prepared for one.
The "Share Aloha, Not Germs" campaign kicks off with the distribution next week of a preparedness guide in MidWeek. The state will also have radio and television ads offering tips and letting people know where they can get more information.
A report by the national nonprofit Trust for America's Health said the state will suffer 10,000 deaths and a 6.6 percent economic drop in case of a severe bird flu pandemic.
Get a flu vaccine every year, wash your hands often and stay home when you are sick.
Those are a few of the tips to help prevent the spread of illnesses included in a state Department of Health family guide to health emergencies that will be distributed with next week's MidWeek.
The guide is part of the state's "Share Aloha, Not Germs" campaign aimed at getting people ready for a flu pandemic or any public health emergency. The state will also run television and radio ads and distribute smaller handouts at various locations that people can also get by calling 211.
"If you follow all the guidelines, it prepares individuals and families for all hazards, and that's what we need to do," said Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state Civil Defense director.
Other tips for preventing the spread of illnesses include getting regular checkups, exercising and eating right, and covering your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, then throwing away the tissue.
A national report from the nonprofit Trust for America's Health said 365,000 people in Hawaii would get sick in a flu pandemic and that 10,000 people would die. The report also said Hawaii would suffer a 6.6 percent drop in its economy, second only to Nevada, which would suffer an 8 percent drop.
"We agree with their conclusion that Hawaii will be hard hit," said Lt. Gov. James Aiona.
He said the best thing people can do is be prepared.
State Health Director Chiyome Fukino said, "The best way to mitigate the economic damage is to control the spread of the disease."
She said the state is spending a lot on resources to enhance its surveillance system to be on the lookout for a pandemic disease and to be able to test quickly for the disease in Hawaii.
The Centers for Disease Control already monitors incoming flights and ships from foreign countries for passengers who are observed or who report being ill. If necessary, it can quarantine them.
In case a pandemic disease does hit Hawaii, Fukino said her department has taken steps to enhance its ability to watch and see what happens after treatment.
The state has already purchased the maximum recommended amount of antiviral medication for its population.
Hawaii would be hit hard in pandemic, study says
Hawaii is taking precautions against a possible flu pandemic but "there is no perfect solution," a top tourism executive said yesterday after a national report found that the islands would be one of the worst-hit states in such a medical emergency.
The national analysis by the Trust for America's Health also projected 10,000 people in Hawaii would die and 365,000 workers would be sickened.
The report shows that tourism-dependent states would take the worst economic hit in a pandemic, such as one caused by bird flu. Nevada would suffer the worst, with an 8 percent drop in its economy, while Hawaii would be next with a 6.6 percent decrease, the report says.
Rex Johnson, Hawaii Tourism Authority director, said he hadn't read the report but the estimate for Hawaii might be too low. "If there was some sort of pandemic, tourism would get hit very hard," he said. "It would be absolutely devastating,"
"We have learned that from at least a reported SARS epidemic," he said. "We have learned that people certainly don't travel in those times. They want to be close to home, close to their home doctor.
"As far as those types of things (infectious diseases), history tells us they develop in Asia and we sit as kind of a crossroads to and from Asia."
The Healthcare Association of Hawaii has been working with the state health department, hospitals and other health providers to prepare for a pandemic flu or any other emergency.