KAILUA-KONA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii County Parks Department closed four Kona parks on Friday including Kailua Playground, Kipapa Park, Harold Higashihara Park and Arthur Greenwell Park for mosquito spraying. This comes as the Hawaii Department of Health declared the Kailua-Kona area a high-risk zone.
It now joins the nearby Captain Cook region of south Kona where the disease was first detected in October 2015. The new designation is both concerning and frustrating for Kona businesses and residents.
"The issue is how many infected mosquitoes are there and how many infected people we don't know about are there," said Kona Resident Karen Anderson.
"There are so many small businesses that we want to make sure they're supported and businesses aren't threatened by this new designation," Kirstin Kahaloa said, executive director of Kona -Kohala Chamber of Commerce.
On Friday, Representative Tulsi Gabbard called on Governor Ige to declare a state of emergency.
"I hope that the Governor hears the voices of the people of Hawaii Island, declares this an emergency so that those resources can be deployed as quickly as possible to be able to stop this outbreak from continuing to grow," Gabbard said.
Anderson, who also spearheads the Hawaii Dengue Fever Awareness group on Facebook, echoed Gabbard's request.
"I think the governor is looking at this like a small trickle that's just going to burn out and the state is reluctant to call it state of emergency, but the fact is if they released state of emergency now, it would release a lot of federal funds that would help with significant aggressive mosquito abatement program that needs to take place now," Anderson said.