Visitors coming now are selfish, inconsiderate

I cannot believe, when I look at my FB feed, that FB friends of mine are still planning on coming to Kaua‘i for vacations, retreats, gatherings, etc. from the mainland in the next couple of months. In the midst of a pandemic. Canceling your vacation or event is not about fear, it’s about looking beyond your own self interest, to protect the people of Kaua‘i. Let me lay out very clearly why coming here at this time is selfish and mind-blowingly inconsiderate:

• We are a small, isolated, contained island that can work together social distancing to reduce spread of the virus, only if imported cases from other places stop. You might feel fine, you might decide to risk airline travel because you’re young and healthy and believe your positive vibes will keep you from getting sick. But you can carry and spread the virus with no symptoms. You can import the virus and unknowingly spread it to local kupuna here, or immune-compromised people (like me) who could die, because you were too selfish to reschedule your vacation or event. Grow up and stop thinking only of yourself.

• Health care — Kaua‘i has about a dozen ICU (intensive-care unit) beds, and only a few hundred hospital beds. If you come here from the mainland and then get sick with the virus, you’re going to take up one of those valuable beds. If our hospital is overwhelmed and in triage situation like Italy, health-care workers will give your young self the respirator over an elder, and leave the elder to die. That’s how triage works. Younger people get treated first before high-risk. So if you take the selfish risk of coming here, be prepared to accept that in the event you need medical care during triage, someone’s auntie, or uncle, or grandma, or a young mother of children with diabetes who is higher risk compared to you, might die. That’s the reality.

• Resources: We get one to two barges a week to bring 90% of our food, medical supplies and household goods here. That barge has a finite amount of space available, it’s not like we can order larger shipments. It’s a ship that holds x amount of goods, no more. Right now there are a lot of empty shelves happening at grocery stores, and they are fighting to restock and keep up with demand for families stocking up to practice social distancing. If that barge is disrupted, or we go into lockdown, your “vacation” fun food takes away from families here struggling to get supplies. Also, if you are healthy but unknowingly carrying the virus, your shopping trip to stock up the vacation rental is spreading it to community members.

• Housing: Campgrounds are closed as the county is preparing them to house homeless / houseless people who need quarantine. In the next couple of months, hundreds or even several thousand local families may face eviction due to hours being cut or layoffs. Your vacation rental might give a local family a temporary rental space if they lose larger homes, hotels may be needed for emergency hospital space, the island is in a state of emergency for F’s sake, and you are one extra body to care for.

• It’s hard for locals to say “stay away” to tourists because all of us depend on tourism to survive. Many of us are already seeing layoffs, hours drastically cut, and are scared and worried knowing rent and bills are due on the 1st. We know that telling you to stay home means things are harder financially on us. We might financially sink, lose homes, cars, businesses. We are addicted to tourism here and dependent on it to survive. But we love our kupuna / elders, we love our neighbors and community. We are willing to sacrifice to protect them by locking down if necessary. Saying no to visitors right now is an act of sacrifice and love, not fear.

I promise Kaua‘i will welcome you as a visitor with aloha when this pandemic is over. Right now though, don’t be selfish. Stay home, take care of yourself and family and community where you are. Allow us to take care of ours. We will all celebrate together when this is over, and Kaua‘i will welcome you again.


Andrew Gorsline is a resident of Kapa‘a.

  1. Uncleaina March 22, 2020 1:24 am Reply

    Exactly right! At this point there’s no excuse for any remaining tourists to be here. Sad to see how they love our aloha spirit – but don’t show us aloha by getting out of here ASAP. Stay inside Kauai people-let’s do everything we can to limit community spread!

  2. NEAL MATHUR March 22, 2020 3:44 am Reply

    very well written…. it expresses Kauai’s current needs with Aloha

  3. Everythingisawesome March 22, 2020 4:50 am Reply

    Not a direct question to you, Andrew, but has anyone for the “Kapuna” voiced what they would like? Faced with the option of potentially getting very sick with no hospital beds available on the island versus a government paid trip to Vegas (or Florida or California, etc) for a few months (closer to more medical resources) which would they choose? I won’t say what I would choose but it seems like a question nobody has considered and could prevent total collapse of the island’s economy.

    1. Everythingisawesome March 22, 2020 11:46 am Reply

      No disrespect intended.

    2. ReasonHasLeftUs March 22, 2020 5:22 pm Reply

      The absolute epitome of hypocrisy. Complaining about tourists bringing covid to the island (when 80% of the cases, per governor Ige’s office, are from returning residents) and then saying that the islands sick should go to another community to spread it there? Where is your head???

      1. Everythingisawesome March 23, 2020 5:12 am Reply

        You misunderstand. If you care for the wellbeing of your Kupuna you should move them out of harms way and closer to medical facilities that won’t become overwhelmed. If you are being honset with them you would warn them that there is a very good chance they will catch the virus, even here on this island.

  4. Peter Eacott March 22, 2020 5:21 am Reply

    This article/attitude should apply to Kauai residents that travel off island also. The virus does not care if you are local or not – it does not discriminate. We all need to work together and save Kauai. Stay home – learn and follow the rules.

    1. Michael Mann March 22, 2020 7:00 pm Reply

      Thank you for saying this!

    2. Joe Public March 23, 2020 11:06 am Reply

      Totally on point

  5. rk669 March 22, 2020 5:36 am Reply

    Kauai Residents need to look in the Mirror! Stop being Selfish Themselves! NIMBY?

  6. starofsilly March 22, 2020 7:08 am Reply

    Mahalo TGI, for ceasing to print other letters that were spreading misinformation and ignorance. That puts you in legal liability for promoting misinformation, and when this is over I bet lawyers are going to get rich on all of those kinds of lawsuits that will be filed against media outlets spreading the “hoax” narratives, or promoting people to go out, or taking all those pictures with people all squished together. Good call.Finally you are printing letters like this. This was so beautifully and perfectly expressed, and is how virtually all of us feel that are compromised, like me as well. Most of us aren’t over 70. The locals here, the real ones, understand that although we love tourists we love each other more. And to be frank, I only love tourists that aren’t here right now. The ones that have traveled here in the last month are heartless and do not deserve my love or anyone else’s.

    This writer is exceptional, sensible intelligent, and obviously knows the facts. Please hire her, and kick out the others that just write fluff. Although I will say, the paper has stopped doing that as of late. So another shining star to the Garden island for that.

    Every single thing this writer said is one hundred percent true, and I have said this exact things to many people. They didn’t listen. They laughed at me, and smirked and rolled their eyes when I insisted on social distancing early on, called me “hysterical”, and was telling me I was “panicking”, and “crazy”. They literally made fun of me.

    In fact some people still do it. One person even yelled at me the other day for daring to tell someone else they were with not to get too close to me. The person was livid, and i was terrified. I am so scared people might get angry at me if i ask them to keep their distance from me, that they might spit on me, or cough on me as a joke.

    I don’t wear a mask, even though I should, to save them for our nurses and doctors. So, I am literally at the mercy of everyone. For me, when my comm unity needed me, I was there over the years, so this really hurts me when people essentially are telling me I am useless and should die because I have health issues and am disabled. I already feel like that everyday because I have been sidelined for working for many years.

    What hurts now, is i cant volunteer in my community. I am stuck at home now, and terrified to go out. But I have to to get things. I should not be going out at all. But right now, there are gaps in services. I am not 70, so i cant get food. I am not a kid, so I cant get a meal. In a week i will be out of food, and no way to get any. I have heard there has been so much hoarding there isn’t much left.

    I didn’t hoard, so I am low on toilet-paper. (I have three rolls left, people. So thanks for hoarding.) The worst, are the people who are booking their vacation rentals to “Virus Tourism”. They are criminals, in my book, and should be brought up on charges, of public endangerment.

    You all understand that our Kupuna, disabled, an d ill people are still treasured parts of our community and culture here. You can’t call yourself a “Hawaiian practitioner”, or a “Local”, if you do not adhere to the most basic of fundamentals in our society. As long as a Kupuna isn’t a heinous, rude. obnoxious crusty old opihi, they get mounds of respect and should be cared for. Well, even if they are, they still get top billing. They are the repositories of all of our knowlege.

    How can you be all reverent to cultural ideals, such as hula, or chanting, or surfing or pulling taro or being “Local”, if you do not protect your Kupuna? What happened to all those protectors and Kiai? What happened to that? You should all be out there, looking for people to help those of you who are young strong and healthy. you should be delivering food, knocking on doors, getting things for the Kupuna and the sick and disabled so they don’t have to go out. You should be living the culture, not just doing lip service.

    As for the rest of you tourists who insist on coming here and infecting our people and bringing sickness and death and taking our hospital beds and services and supplies I say you will never get an aloha smile for me ever again. After this, I do not love you. My patience is over. No more will I welcome tourists here. We need to do something else. We need to evolve as a state, and diversify our economy. There must be something else we can do. I am tired of only having one thing at a time here.

    Of course, if I get this virus, I probably wont make it. My underlying health problems are severe. So, I am going to say exactly how I feel before I may get sick, or even worse. I have nothing left to lose. But I will say those of you who continue to arrive, there is such a thing as Karma. remember that.

    1. Doug March 22, 2020 1:19 pm Reply

      Nicely put! Mahalo!

  7. Sharon Shaddock March 22, 2020 7:13 am Reply

    Well said, Andrew. I pray your voice of reason may spread wide and far!

  8. jake March 22, 2020 8:13 am Reply

    Visiting Kauai during a pandemic, if you don’t need to be here, is now a hostile gesture, and it deserves a hostile response. Let these people know just how unhappy you are that they’re here.

  9. Tevahine March 22, 2020 9:09 am Reply

    I could not agree more. As a former resident of Kauai, I currently live on the mainland and visit Kauai twice per year. We have a trip scheduled mid-May, which I’m almost sure we will cancel, whether required at the time or not. Most of it is pre-paid and if we lose our money, so be it. I agree the islands need to be protected from cruise ship visitors, air travel, and tourism, and will stand behind that. Sending Aloha to all the island people as we all get through this. We may be thousands of miles apart, but together in spirit.

  10. kauaibest March 22, 2020 9:48 am Reply

    Let’s not cop an attitude about the visitors. I work at a resort and once I explain to the people calling that we are not equipped medically to handle a large outbreak they completely understand and agree that it’s best to stay home. Educate them. There are always a few selfish people in the world but I’m finding a majority of my resort guests are very sympathetic, are worried for all of us and are staying home. I also have guests that have been on island since January long before we had a problem and they’re getting vibed by locals for being here, because they felt it was safer just to stay and not be flying.
    live aloha folks

  11. kauaidoug March 22, 2020 9:50 am Reply

    Andrew, RIGHT ON! Well said, direct. Waay better than sign waving but it is the truth. I am posting your words on my website and FB, I couldn’t have said it better, thank you. You lay it out as to what is at stake. HAwaii is on vacation.

  12. DEMinSoCAL March 22, 2020 10:11 am Reply

    Nicely put, and I agree with everything said. As a mainlander and frequent visitor to Kauai, we have always respected the island and those that live there (sometimes, it feels, we respect it more than some that live there…), but agree that now is not the time to come. With the mandatory 2 week quarantine, hopefully a dramatic reduction in visitors will occur.

    Hoping that sooner-than-later we are back to a better “normal” and can once again visit and enjoy all the beauty the island and its people offer.

    1. Michael Mann March 22, 2020 6:59 pm Reply

      “sometimes, it feels, we respect it more than some that live there…”

      It feels that way because IT IS that way, DEMinSoCal. You have clearly been quite observant during your visits. There are a sufficient number of people who call Kauai home who don’t respect it that you actually can’t go a single day without seeing one of them in the act unless you are purposefully trying not to see it. Next time you are here, just pay attention to how many drivers you see thrown cigarette butts out of their cars. Make a note of how many people you see cough up phlegm and spit it either out of their car, onto the sidewalk, or in paved parking lots (I would suggest also watching your step whenever you are here). Pay attention to how many people you see sneexing and coughing without covering their nose and mouth and without immediately washing their hands–this is the reason the seasonal flu blows through this place the way it does EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Pay attention to how many stray cats there are–these weren’t brought here by tourists, and they are a scourge to the endemic bird population in this ecological hotzone. People love to blame the tourists for all the ills on the Hawaiian islands, but it simply isn’t the case. Yes, tourists do contribute to the problems, but I think if someone actually did a full and honest study of the dangers that people pose to this place, the majority of the threat would come from residents.

  13. Island resident March 22, 2020 10:29 am Reply

    Well said!!!! A pandemic is not a time for your vacation!!!! Go home and come back another time when our economy needs it.

    Why would visitors be welcome when we cannot be making money off of them?

    This needs to be posted at the airports,
    All travel agencies promoting Hawaii, public spaces and anywhere else some might see fit.

  14. Randy Kansas March 22, 2020 11:01 am Reply

    This is all fine and dandy and I agree, however it does not do much good to post this on this site, the tourists are not reading the newspaper!

    1. Snowdrifter March 23, 2020 3:30 am Reply

      Fear not, the effort wasn’t wasted. Actually, some tourists do read this newspaper. I am not currently on the island nor do I have any plans to visit this year, we typically try to go once a year and I do read this newspaper on a weekly basis.

  15. Michael Mann March 22, 2020 11:53 am Reply

    Unfortunately, it is not just tourists you have to contend with. There are island residents who have been going to the mainland and coming back since this pandemic started. We need to reserve some culpability for them as well in all of this.

    EVERYONE bears some responsibility for how this all plays out from here on by virtue of whatever actions or inactions they take: unnecessary travel, hoarding, encouraging more guns on the island for “self protection,” not heeding curfews or calls for social distancing, propagating misinformation on social media about cures that don’t exist, propagating misinformation from the federal administration about hoaxes or scapegoating Asians by referring to the virus as “China virus,” or saying the virus will burn itself out once warmer weather comes, or downplaying the threat and not being honest with the American people about the level of threat this poses when it is readily apparent from what has been going on in other countries, and on, and on, and on. If you want the “Aloha Spirit” to remain alive and thrive, it can not be through selfishness and promotion of lies, and the entire community needs to be active in calling these behaviors out whenever and wherever they appear.

    Any help given to businesses MUST get to employees in equal measure. Any plan that does not make this a core requirement is a plan that is overtly trying to use this crisis to enrich a few. It’s not enough if your business remains open if you lay off a sizable portion of your employees in the process–they have to retain their jobs and their pay or you get no help. By the same token, this can also be taken way too far: I just saw a petition on yesterday calling for the federal government to give each adult $2000 and each child $1000 PER MONTH while this situation persists. This is absolutely insane. The country is already $1 trillion in debt–I don’t know where anyone thinks the money for this will come from. The US Census Bureau estimates there are about 250 million adults and 170 million children in the country. So do that math…that means a payout of $500 TRILLION for adults and $170 TRILLION for children EVERY MONTH! This is just as irrational as referring to all of this as a “Democratic hoax.”

    People need to start thinking more clearly about the situation, and in particular, a purely capitalist view is a recipe for economic and social disaster. There are many ways this could go very badly, and only a few ways it can be made less bad. There is no way to make it good.

    1. Michael Mann March 22, 2020 7:03 pm Reply

      That should read $500 BILLION and $170 BILLION.

  16. Colleen March 22, 2020 12:06 pm Reply

    I shared this on Facebook. Thank you for writing this, Andrew, and thank you for printing this, Jessica and The Garden Island.
    As for tourists being understanding and considerate, it isn’t always the case. I’ve been following a Japan poster on youTube and many commenters seem to be only concerned about their own welfare and not the welfare of the Japanese, as though it never occurred to them that maybe THEY were the ones endangering others.

  17. Bob Weiner March 22, 2020 7:35 pm Reply

    Good except the Island has scarcely over 100 acute care hospital beds and about 9 ICU beds. Even these could wind up being unstaffed if docs and nurses catch the virus from patients as they have in other communities where protective equipment has run out

  18. WaimeaResident March 23, 2020 6:23 am Reply

    Without demand for the goods, the barges full of goods will stop coming.

    Be careful what you wish for.

  19. Rexg March 23, 2020 9:16 am Reply

    I had a short vacation planned for 10 days in Kauai and a week in Maui for mid-June. Out of respect I felt it best to cancel. Thank you to the condo owners who had over 3000 of my deposit money. They both refunded me in full. I would have cancelled even if I wouldn’t have been able to get my money back. I went to the Uof H back in the late 60’s and have visited the beautiful islands 39 times. My wife of 47 years died 2 and 1/2 years ago and her ashes are buried at sea off the coast of Maui. I always try to return on the anniversary of her burial, July 11th. But this year she’ll understand as she loved the Islands also. Be safe my friends.

  20. Local Tour Operator March 23, 2020 12:11 pm Reply

    It goes both ways. Kauai residents, don’t buy a cheap airline ticket somewhere to become a tourist and a problem for another region of the world. BTW, visitors are getting the message loud and clear that they are not wanted now. Like one family saying they got to their rental car and it was spray painted with “GO HOME HAOLE!” Let’s show class in how we handle this crisis and how it is addressed with the visitors. Tour companies, beaches, restaurants are closed with the strong message that they value their customers but are doing so to protect our community. Many visitors are doing their best to wrap up their vacations much earlier than planned and get back home, and feeling guilty to still be here while doing so.

    1. Michael Mann March 23, 2020 9:43 pm Reply

      It really is sick that people would do such a thing here.

      1. Jake April 6, 2020 2:47 am Reply

        Not surprising at all. Hawaii is the most racist state in the Union. It is condoned. Throw in racist remarks and add the treatment of animals on this island, and you have your own Third World Country in Hawaii.

  21. Shannon March 25, 2020 12:35 am Reply

    We have a limited amount of ICU beds. We need those beds for Kauai residents.
    See the problem?
    We have 4 cases on Kauai . 3 of which are tourists.
    Tourists need to leave immediately.

  22. Mikala from Texas March 25, 2020 3:33 am Reply

    Tell your Airbnb owners that they should be giving full refunds!!! Or i will see you guys April 18! I can’t afford to lose that money.

  23. Lee Rogers March 31, 2020 3:35 pm Reply

    My wife and I fell in love with Kauai long ago, not just the island, but the people who call it home. We’re older, and we got over tourist stuff our first trip, and now we come every year to just BE there and enjoy what we’ve learned about the spirit of Aloha.

    Of course, we cancelled our trip this year. Who in their right minds wouldn’t, especially if you truly love the island? We didn’t think twice about it. It was the only thing to do. Everyone should have.

    I can understand some of the comments made here, even the anti-aloha ones. I get it, but it does make us very sad. I didn’t understand how Kauai’s people thought about tourists. I do now.

    When this temporary virus problem finally ends, we’ll probably go to Mexico, our second favorite place in the world.


    Lee Rogers

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