I applaud The Garden Island newspaper for its spot-on analysis of the situation here on Kaua‘i in their April 7 opinion piece.
I understand the severity of this virus, especially for at-risk and older residents. I am 68 and have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), so I fall into both categories. But, like all of us, we need to venture out for essential needs.
For now, community spread is not an issue with the cases of COVID-19 here, and they are all (at this writing) travel-related. While I understand the need for residents to return, I am astounded by the fact that tourists are still coming here considering the restrictions they are supposed to follow. Unfortunately, they are not following the rules that the rest of us must abide by. It is also unfortunate that only the federal government can issue a directive restricting mainland and interisland travel.
In the two times I have ventured out of the house in the last four weeks, I have encountered visitors in both Safeway in Lihu‘e and in Costco. So, I have a suggestion for our mayor to help the situation, and lessen, to me anyways, some of the overly aggressive measures he feels the need to implement.
As visitors arrive at the airport (where they are screened anyways now), give them a card stamped with arrival date and out-of-quarantine date. Do ID checks at the stores (grocery, Walmart and Costco) and non-residents must show their cards. If they are trying to enter during their quarantine period, do not permit them to enter. This protects us residents from their potential to expose us in these places that we have to visit occasionally (we all have to eat).
Second, order the car-rental companies to not rent vehicles to out-of-state visitors. This limits their mobility, further assuring they follow the rules and remain in their hotel rooms. Once they are past the quarantine date (again, the card), if they remain, then they can be allowed to rent a vehicle. Follow the same procedure of checking IDs on the buses as well. The county can provide a shuttle from the airport to the hotels if the hotel does not have one. This should not be much of a burden, since the number of visitors is small, but their potential to spread the virus is much larger.
Waiting at a roadblock for hours to get to a doctor’s appointment, go shopping, or return home with your purchases has got to end. Cold foods get warm, appointments are missed, since you don’t know if you are going to encounter these roadblocks on your travels. They are random, so it is impossible to plan.
While the mayor has implemented some sane measures, some are a bit draconian and more suited to a police state than Kaua‘i. Even on O‘ahu, they have not resorted to similar roadblocks. The time has come to prevent or at least limit violations by people from out of state coming here and bringing additional cases of this virus to Kaua‘i. Once we are assured that there is no community spread, we can begin to resume our normal lives and routines. Currently there are only six (I believe) active cases on the island (the rest have departed). Let’s implement measures for visitors to assure that this number never grows.
Barry Dittler is a resident of Wailua