This story has been edited to accurately reflect Gov. Ige’s travel quarantine, which applies to individuals flying from the mainland directly or through Honolulu.
LIHU‘E — Amidst a stay-at-home order and travel quarantines for those traveling to Hawai‘i from the mainland or internationally, families on Kaua‘i are finding ways to cope, follow rules and support the community.
Many families who fly to O‘ahu from Kaua‘i for medical reasons or doctor appointments plan to isolate themselves from the community when they return, even though they’re flying interisland and not traveling internationally or to the Mainland.
Gilda Valera is a registered nurse at Garden Island Healthcare & Rehabilitation at Wilcox Medical Center who is already serving her community on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. Soon, she will be flying to O‘ahu with son Aden Valera, who is recovering from cancer.
“It’s going to be hard. I have to fly my son to O‘ahu from Kaua‘i for his chemo, and then be quarantined when I get back,” said Valera.
Kanea Kinimaka-Aranio, a Waimea resident, is also voluntarily taking steps to protect herself and her community.
“My grandma passed on Monday, and with all the travel restrictions its hard for the family to get together and grieve/celebrate a wonderful person’s life,” Kinimaka-Aranio said. “I feel bad for the senior class of 2020, missing out on events that could’ve been lifetime memories. Other than that, life at home is the same except the kids are getting cabin fever.”
Some with pre-existing health conditions are doing their best to protect themselves in this time, going above and beyond the governor’s 14-day mandatory quarantine for indiviuals traveling from international destinations or the Mainland.
Hanama‘ulu resident and dialysis patient Allison Davis has spiritual beliefs that keep her hopeful. She’s taking extra precautions to keep herself healthy.
“We have not been affected too much by it. We just put our trust in God. If he has brought us to it, he will see us through it,” said Davis. “My immune system is compromised, (and) as well as being diabetic and a peritoneal home-dialysis patient puts me at a higher risk for infections.”
Like Davis, many are homebound due to the stay-at-home order issued by county and state officials.
Hanama‘ulu resident Jasmine Sadamitsu is the mother of eight children, and had to make some transitions as she started working from home.
“I am trying to be positive with everything that’s going on. For me and my family, I know we needed to reset,” said Sadamitsu. “We have been living in routine for a long time. There is nothing wrong with routine, in fact, with eight kids in our home, we need it. But we haven’t been able to enjoy each other in a long time. We do now. I’m able to spend quality time with the kids.”
Sadamitsu said during these stressful times, she is grateful to be able to cook real meals, play games with her kids and just spend more time with her ‘ohana.
Her advice to people on Kaua‘i through these unpredictable times: “If you are blessed and in a position to help someone, you should. Be kind and show aloha.”
Puhi resident Hanakapi’ai Grosse and her family have recently had to deal with cancellations of events like her daughter’s Merrie Monarch competition. Both Grosse and her husband have lost business due to COVID-precautions, like the stay-at-home mandate.
“Amidst the disappointment and heartache, though, the first week seemed like a staycation. We were able to rest and be together with our family of seven. School hasn’t affected us as we home school our five children already,” said Grosse.
“After the first week, we were quickly sobered by the realization that both my husband’s and my business were brought to a complete halt, as they both depended on tourism, his being a car-rental business and mine as a destination wedding.”
According to Grosse, with tourism slowing down it will eventually hurt her family financially. But she is on board with slowing tourism to fight the virus.
“The health and safety of our island is far more important than our income right now. We know that God is in control and we are hopeful that as a family and a community we will be able to weather this storm and come back stronger than ever in time,” Grosse said.
While some residents work at home, others are still considered essential workers and are out and about during the stay-at-home order.
Maycia Matsuyoshi, an employee of Pint Size Hawaii, is grateful to still be working through this crisis.
“People still need basic essentials, and there is a bunch of us who are glad to work on their behalf. My family is only going out for essentials. Otherwise, if we need something, I will pick it up on my way to or from work,” Matsuyoshi said.
Koloa School teacher Lia Nishikura and her fellow coworkers are busy working hard to find ways to help kids learn until they are able to return to school.
Nishikura said their principal has been proactive and working diligently with teachers to find ways that will meet the needs of all of their students.
“Right now students are scheduled to report back to school on April 7, so as a school we decided on paper packets to be handed out to families by a drive through pick up to supplement ‘til then,” Nishikura said.
“After April 7, we will reevaluate our methods and will most likely have to rely on some technology-based work.”
She goes on to say that the school and staff have a real strong sense of “for the kids” like all teachers on Kaua‘i have. So when problems arise they will do their best to figure it out and help their students.
“As a teacher, just the uncertainty is really scary. Not knowing when I will get to see my students, whether we will still have time to finish our curriculum. I also worry a lot about my students. I hope that someone is working with them, caring about them and challenging them.”
Nishikura advises parents that, in addition to the resources provided by the school, they should take this time to get to know their children.
“Write papers, create experiments, make art and research something that they always wanted to learn about,” Nishikura said.
Stephanie Shinno, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.