The time is now for kokua

Everyone is getting a barrage of information about COVID-19, and people are listening to variable degrees, but there are some constants, and it is important for people to understand the why of all of the measures that are being put into place. Here is just a little more information. We have a very small window of time to save a lot of lives.

COVID-19 has up to a 14-day incubation period. More transmissible, fatal and stealthier than the flu, it spreads from one person to another for several days before triggering obvious symptoms. Think about where you were two weeks ago and how many people you’ve encountered before we were all paying attention. You used the pin pad in your grocery store, the hose to wash down your board, or handled the pump to put gas in your car. You are a possibly a carrier.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to one in four cases may be symptom-free. This is why social distancing is being stressed by Mayor Kawakami, and he’s asked everyone to act as though you have the virus. Think of New Orleans. The virus spread during Mardi Gras the last week of February, and the first cases are showing themselves just recently.

w I know we feel safe here with such a low number of cases. But it is a false sense of security. Remember the 14-day incubation period and that we have had severely limited testing, particularly compared to other countries;

w Kaua‘i is a great place to be during this time because we are a small community that can do the right thing to keep the cases to a minimum. But it could be a terrible place to be if we don’t. WE DO NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES to treat a large population of sick people. The virus infects people of all ages, but our kupuna are particularly at risk, and the death rates for them climb significantly. In severely affected areas, Italy has largely stopped treating anyone over the age of 60 due to lack of resources;

w It is hard to stay at home. Do things to make it easier. Surf. Go for a solo walk. Facetime/Zoom with the groups you normally interact with. But keep all exposures to a minimum. Grocery store weekly, not every other day;

w We must “flatten the curve” by physically isolating ourselves from other people to cut off chains of transmission to forestall the future collapse of our health-care system. These seemingly drastic steps must be taken seriously before they feel proportionate, and they must continue for several weeks;

It is time for each of us to sacrifice for the good of this island. Please encourage everyone you know to do what is needed now and for the weeks to come. Estimates say we have until April 20 before our hospitals are overrun and our resources stretched beyond their capacity. We’re all in this together. It’s our civic duty to ensure we’re making the smartest decisions, and we all have a role to play. Let me say this again: We have a very small window of time to save a lot of lives.


Lisa Besalel is a resident of Po‘ipu.

  1. Martha E Hodges April 3, 2020 2:04 pm Reply

    Thank-you Ms. Besalel! Excellent medically based and factual information about COVID-19 using urgent and reason-based recommendations reminding us that by following precautions, we help ourselves and others. Many still want to dismiss the reality but do so putting everyone at risk; especially on the Mainland where Democrat states did “shut-down” and Republican states did not. Talk about partisanship!!! And putting politics over people!

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