Five Actions to Combat COVID-19 in Hawaii

A data-driven approach is needed to figure out how the disease has spread in the islands and what can be done to contain it.

2 minute read

August 25, 2020, 6:00 AM PDT

By Clement Lau

Downtown Honolulu as seen from the top of Diamond Head

John Fowler / flickr

In this editorial, Karl Kim, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Hawaii, critiques and expresses his frustration with the state's response to the pandemic. As Hawaii struggles to get a handle on the crisis, he makes the case for much more data-sharing and a more data-driven approach to tackle COVID-19.

Kim indicates that there is "a crisis of data, analysis, and risk management" and that there needs to be "a renewed call-to-arms for data scientists, modelers, geo-spatial and statistical analysts to study, map, and figure out how the disease has spread and what can be done to contain it."

He recommends five actions that would help the State of Hawaii do a better job in fighting the pandemic: (1) establish a data clearinghouse for current integrated COVID-19 test, contact tracing, hospitalization, and medical insurance claims data, (2) perform focused quick analyses on the behavioral and locational attributes of those infected and spreading the disease, (3) form interdisciplinary teams of researchers, statisticians, and data scientists who are funded to conduct risk analyses but also review, critique, and share analytical capabilities, (4) integrate mapping, modeling, and risk assessment with planning and decision-making, and (5) ensure widespread community engagement in all phases of data collection, analysis, implementation, and evaluation of mitigation strategies.

Kim knows a thing or two about disasters and ways to mitigate and recover from them. He has spent much of his career studying disasters, and he is the executive director of the Pacific Urban Resilience Lab and the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center.

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