Kaua‘i a good place to avoid widespread COVID-19

  • Ryan Collins / The Garden Island Casey Rothstein, a clinical researcher and CEO of Green Aloha + Dispensary, left, speaks about some of the challenges he faces as the owner and operator of Kauai's only medical marijuana dispensary, while Dr. Janet Berreman of the state Department of Health listens Thursday at the Lihue Business Association meeting at Duke's Canoe Club on Kalapaki Beach.

  • Photo courtesy Department of Health Janet Berreman

The coronavirus pandemic has us all sitting on the edge of our chairs, wondering what will come next and when it will be over.

In some ways it is like waiting for a hurricane. But many of us today feel more frightened than when we are facing a storm or flood waters.

When a hurricane approaches, we watch its progress, and within a few days we know the outcome. We anxiously watch flood waters rise and start to recede. Then we roll up our sleeves and go about the business of recovering and rebuilding. Kaua‘i is very good at this. We’ve had a lot of experience.

A pandemic is a different kind of natural disaster. Many of us have watched its progress for months. Unlike a hurricane or tsunami, the pandemic’s end is far in the future.

In this disaster, our community working together can minimize the impacts. We can weather this storm with less damage than it has caused in other parts of the world.

Why do I think we may be more successful than others?

We can control travel to and from our community. Through efforts by the mayor and the governor, arrivals from out-of-state and even from other islands are much reduced. This means fewer opportunities for the virus to be imported to our community, and better protection for us.

As I write this, all the COVID-19 cases on Kaua‘i became ill as a result of being exposed elsewhere. We are the only county in the state that has not yet experienced community transmission of COVID-19, meaning no one has picked up the virus in our community.

We are at a critical juncture on Kaua‘i. The earliest cases were visitors, but now most are Kaua‘i residents returning from travel to the mainland. When residents come home, we don’t stay in hotel rooms and visit tourist sites. We go to our homes and greet our loved ones, often in crowded, multi-generational houses. We like to be together and we can’t avoid being together. This puts all of us at greater risk.

As Kaua‘i District Health Officer, I want to express my deep appreciation for everything our residents are doing. We are all making sacrifices: some by working long hours to maintain essential services, and most by staying home as much as possible.

The kinds of measures we are using on Kaua‘i have worked before in other locations and in other epidemics. But they don’t work immediately.

COVID-19 has an incubation period of up to two weeks. It can take as long as two weeks for a person to get sick after being exposed to another ill individual. So the new cases are in people exposed before the mayor and governor put in place measures like the overnight curfew, the stay-at-home order, and the 14-day quarantine on travelers. Those measures are powerful, and we will see their impact. It will take two to four weeks to see the slowing of disease spread. But we will only see the flattening of the curve if we all act together and we follow these powerful directives, now and in the weeks to come.

Here are the things we can all do to continue to protect our island:

1. “Stay at home” means just that. All of us should be staying at home as much as possible. That includes workers with essential duties. They need to come to work, but when they are not at work they should be at home. When getting food, caring for others or exercising, each of us needs to spend as little time with others as possible. The less interaction we have with other people, the less opportunity we give the coronavirus to spread from person to person;

2. If you are sick, stay home at all times. This is especially important if you have essential duties. The last thing you want to do is to expose other essential workers;

3. Avoid traveling off-island. Even travel to neighbor islands poses more risk than staying home. Mainland or foreign travel poses even greater risk. Everyone who travels must stay home at all times for 14 days after returning;

4. Wear a simple mask any time you go out or are around others. Keep your germs to yourself. You don’t need a surgical mask or a respirator. Our health-care workers and first responders need those. A home-made cloth mask or even a bandana will keep your germs to yourself: “My mask protects you and your mask protects me.” Together we can protect each other;

5. At all times, whether at home or at work in an essential function or working from home, observe the basics:

• Keep a distance of six feet from others;

• Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly;

• Cover your coughs and sneezes;

• Clean surfaces frequently;

• Avoid large groups and gatherings.

These are unusual times. We need to be kind to ourselves and those around us. Please be generous in whatever ways you can, and don’t hesitate to ask for help. There is no shame in having this disease or in experiencing any of its far-reaching consequences — emotional, financial, fear, loss and anxiety. Reach out to those who can help and take time for the activities that sustain you.

Finally, a word about testing. If you think you need to be tested for COVID-19, here are some things you should know:

• You must call your doctor first and discuss your concerns. If you and your health-care provider decide that you need to be tested, your doctor will order the test;

• After you have an order from your doctor, you should follow his/her directions to be tested;

• While you wait for the results of your test, you must stay at home in quarantine. If the result is positive, your doctor and the Department of Health will contact you with further instructions;

• Please note that being tested when you feel well is not generally recommended. A negative test today does not mean you won’t become sick tomorrow. Similarly, a negative test will not shorten your quarantine period.

Thank you for doing your part to protect your community.


Dr. Janet Berreman is the state Department of Health Kaua‘i district health officer.

  1. Shelly April 5, 2020 6:27 am Reply

    Very informative article/ thank you Dr. B!!!!

  2. randy kansas April 5, 2020 7:35 am Reply

    thanks Dr. Berreman, great article and we are all in this together !!

  3. Fishman April 5, 2020 7:41 am Reply

    I can’t believe that you chose this headline for this story, it is in google news now and being read by the world trying to escape this pandemic. Yes reading the article is informative and yes it does tell about the 2 week quarantine however for an island that is based on tourism this is not a wise choice in words as a headline. This is very irresponsible journalism!

    1. mina April 6, 2020 1:31 pm Reply

      I have to agree. A headline like the one on this article could start a stampede and overwhelm airport security personnel. People tend to read only headlines. Not a good move, TGI.

    2. CurlsGirl April 7, 2020 9:48 am Reply

      I completely agree. The headline is completely at odds with what we’re hoping to get to in this community…stopping travel-related spread.

    3. Michelle April 8, 2020 12:56 pm Reply

      Amen 🙏 yes yes yes a human who has something intelligent to say!

  4. Anony Mouss April 5, 2020 10:21 am Reply

    We’ve been small enough to shut down and control the spread…so far.

    But… Unless the virus is totally eliminated, and/or everyone here is vaccinated, what happens when we try to reopen travel, etc.? We’re also small enough for this to go through the whole community almost overnight.

    I don’t know that Kauai is good for “avoiding” widespread COVID-19. It looks like we’re just good for delaying widespread COVID-19.

  5. Protect Kauai April 5, 2020 11:04 am Reply

    The Garden Island, please, please change this headline. This will attract more nonresidents, whether they be visitors or homeless like the last 2 that KPD arrested.

  6. charlie Chimknee April 5, 2020 1:57 pm Reply

    The Little Chicken said…”The Sky Is Fallng, the sky is falling…!” Hey you don’t have to believe that Fear Tactic, it’s just trying to set you up to buy the coming vaccine.

    If you get NO exposure to the CoVid19 virus, you get No internal virus immunity response, and if you get no internal virus immunity response, you have NO personal natural immunity to the virus. YOU GET NO immunity, or protection from the CoVid19 virus.

    So next year when the virus returns, as viruses do return just like the winter seasonal virus returns every year, and 2 to 3 million get infected but only 25,000 to 35,000 of those sick already and some of the elderly die from the yearly flu, but no one is wearing masks and gloves for that epidemic, and no one is restricted from travel or work or made to quarantine; and the people dying from the yearly seasonal winter flu are the same similarly sick people and unhealthy elderly dying from the CoVid19 virus, which are the already sick and the unhealthy elderly.

    When the seasonal winter flu comes around and 2 to 3 million people get sick, and you don’t, you probably have developed immunity to it,,even though you,ha TVR the flu virus in your body. Yet everyone not sick is still working and still flying
    and taking vacations.

    And some of the seasonal flu sick people are still flying, and you’re sitting next to them kn the plane or train or bus and you don’t get sick because your immune system is working well thanks to your nervous system and your degree of overall health.

    A word to the wise, avoid disease care, and don’t be unhealthy when you are elderly. But do be active and Healthy by your own personal daily Health Care.

    Take the responsibility and time to partake in Personal Health Care. Be cautious of Disease Care’s use of the Side Effects of prescription drugs and over the counter medications.

    Personal health care Must include: Sun, Water, Air, Rest, Exercise (S.W.A.R.E.), but be sure it is quality, and enough, but not too much.

    Be sure to eat lots of Vegetables, and some Fruits, Legumes (beans), Grains but not processed like wheat processed into white flour, like bakery donuts, cakes, breads, and even pancakes and cookies; but enjoy Seeds, Nuts, and other totally natural foods.

    Honey on occasion, but never Sugar, which is in almost every packaged and canned and bottled food, it provides the high of a light stimulus that keeps bringing you back in a mild addiction. Many sugars are disguised with different names. Beware Sugars have 60 names.

    They say sugar feeds infection, well the CoVid19 virus comes by infection.

    Do not eat foods that have additives, all those chemicals that are on the label of the ingredients, especially in all those combinations. The pharmacist warns you about mixing drugs made of chemicals, but your food is a cauldron of chemicals.

    Beware of synthetic vitamins, many are made from petroleum and are carcinogenic, which means cancer causing, so are some of the other chemicals. Besides vitamins are in food naturally and must have their natural co-factors which are also in the food in order to activate in our bodies. Get your vitamins and minerals naturally in your natural food.

    Animal flesh, steaks and burgers, have muscle fiber, but have ZERO Dietary Fiber for you when you eat them, the dietary fiber is mandatory for your entire digestive system. Dietary fiber is in all fruits and vegetables, but not in meats. If you use a juicer be sure to put some of the discarded pulp (fiber) back into your juice.

    Therefore limit your use of eating animals that have fins, wings, hooves, and claws, etc. They can be delicious but are not necessary for health, and too much has proven to be unhealthy for your heart disease and vascular blood system, strokes.

    People have an approximate 26’ long small intestine necessary to digest dietary fiber. Animals that are carnivores, the meat eaters, have a digestive track only the length of their torso, their body, from their stomach to their okole, anus. They are not designed like humans to digest fruits and vegetables and why your kitty cat does not naturally eat fruit and vegetables. They also have claws, fangs, and a digestive tract dedicated to getting the meat inside other animals, and “melting” the protein in muscle fiber of The other animals they eat, and digest in their short digestive tract.

    Humans are not equipped with those eating and digestive apparatus of carnivore animals, like kitty, and the big cats and even some of the birds, and some dinosaurs.

    How much of any one thing to eat, that’s another topic and discussion. But don’t keep eating till you’re stuffed. Obesity is waiting for you. Obesity is an illness, and often goes hand in hand with diabetes. Diabetes: your pancreas can not make enough hormone called insulin, which carries natural sugar from your blood stream out to your cells for energy. So if you do not have enough insulin, your blood stream ends up with too much sugar in your blood stream. Too much sugar in your blood? The body converts that too much sugar into fat cells…more obese. And then too: many fat cells manufacture the estrogen hormone, which men do not need as much of and women with too much estrogen can develop cancer. Yeeeech…!

    Dairy? Is for baby cows and then only till they are weaned. Dairy has an enormous amount (80%) of its protein called Casein, and made from petroleum synthetic casienate is put into our foods. Casein, and caseinate, trigger some of our cells into cancer cells, like tumors. Leave dairy to the baby dairy cows, but go ahead and drink and eat the similar to dairy products made out of other foods like coconuts and other nuts, like almond, hazelnuts, and macadamia nuts,,etc.

    If you do all these healthy things, you will be more healthy and able to stay away from unhealthy things like alcohol, tobacco and drugs of any kind and hopefully have no need for the prescription drugs and over the counter medications. You’re not healthy if you are taking drugs or medications of any kind. You’ll be more able to develop immunity by staying or becoming healthy with none or mild symptoms of any virus when it comes to your area, and you won’t need some strange vaccine.

    80% of Americans use 1 or more prescription drugs, and 55% use 4 or more prescription drugs, and even some take multiple doses multiple times a day of 10, 15, and even up to 20 prescription drugs a day, and even some pharmacy non prescription medications. That’s a sick person, and who are like an epidemic themself, perhaps contaminating others around them if they have a contagious disease.

    with that many people on prescription drugs, We are a sick nation, and an Easy Target for a virus, no matter who made it.

    If you get this Covid19 virus and have no symptoms, you have a really good Immune System. If you only have mild symptoms you have an OK immune system. If you have to have bed rest for the virus you have at least a functioning immune system. And with all three immune responses you get to have immunity for next year and the next year, maybe immunity for life, like most do already from the measles, mumps, and chicken pox.

    Protect yourself with a strong Immunity. BE Healthy, Eat Healthy. That makes for a Healthy Immune System.

    The MAJORITY of the population can handle this virus as proof is in the statistics. The Minority apparently cannot. Over 90% who get this virus are not dying, but the unhealthy and unhealthy elderly are the ones who die. Some statistics so far show well under 1%. The MINORITY need our help.

    Thus the sane thing to do is put all the MAJORITY back to work, open the economy and businesses, USE OUR TAXES TO PROTECT, ISOLATE, QUARANTINE, AND SERVE THE MINORITY, who are our elderly and sick people.

    Make sure they are taken care of at home and provided with that which will make them healthy. Or in the hospital if necessary.

    We can’t say enough about the necessary nerve integrity of our brain, brain stem, and spinal cord which is protected inside of our skull, the cranium, and our 24 vertebrae. Our nerve system makes every thing work in Coordinarion, all the cells, tissues, organs and the body systems, one of which is the Immune System.

    Know too, that the virus is not a live thing like a bacteria, it is a protein surrounded by a fatty, lipid, outer layer or membrane. The purpose of washing your hands with soap is to have the soap dissolve the fatty virus outer membrane which lets the inside of the virus decay so it is unable to function as a virus and do harm. ALSO use hot water to wash your hands in order to help to melt the membrane and wash vigorously to make a foam for 20 seconds.The foam helps dissolve the fatty membrane.

    Add to a fat or grease cutting soap hot water for optimal melting of the virus outer fatty layer.

    And drink plenty water, Even extra meltingly warm, so that the water will work with your immune system In your blood stream and to carry the immune defensive cells out to all the body parts to fight those nasty viruses. warm water passing through the throat will to,dissolve the virus fatty membrane.

    Some of us think it is best that the MAJORITY of citizens should be at work, and play, and traveling, and that the our youth should not be missing school; and that the MAJORITY should be taking care of the MINORITY, who should be QUARANTINED and taken well care of by the Majority.

    End the destruction and ruination of our economy NOW…! This fear is for the ignorant and those who will make money on the fear and loss of jobs, income, homes, cars, investments, while others will profit from sales of medical equipment and coming probably another dangerous vaccine. Oh sorry if you are a vaccine lover. And boo on those who wil profit on other people’s losses.

    If using masks is so important how come we can be infected with virus absorbed into our eyes. Should all Who fear be wearing snorkels and dive masks with special virus filters in the snorkel. Besides snorkel and mask last longer even to next year when the virus comes again. will you have developed natural immunity by then or will you pull your virus snorkel and mask from the closet?

    Dive equipment for virus is practical, but practically nuts already…! ! !

    1. mina April 6, 2020 1:43 pm Reply

      Charlie, I have a feeling whatever it is you’re selling has been interrupted by quarantine.

  7. Concernedkauaian April 5, 2020 2:06 pm Reply

    Why do you post a title like that. Why not invite the world to Kauai. What a dumb move

  8. TK Blake April 6, 2020 6:43 am Reply

    It is non-sensible and inappropriate that in an article you speak of COVID-19 and emphasize social distancing your photos, in todayʻs 04/06/20 edition, show those photographed closer than what appears to be six feet apart, the recommended social distance.

    Pua o Koloa

  9. kimo April 6, 2020 10:48 am Reply

    This is irresponsible journalism. Even just publishing a headline like this during a time of pandemic panic could trigger a flood of arrivals to Kauai with people running from this virus. This is what has me convinced that TGI is being “paid off” by the tourism industry, the resorts, or the local businesses to soft pedal the seriousness of this pandemic. Pull this article. Stop the brown-nosing journalism.

  10. Betty Ball April 6, 2020 12:53 pm Reply

    We are all in big trouble if our Health Officer is sitting this close to somebody. Social Distance?

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