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Letters for Saturday, April 18, 2020

Return to life as usual

Is it really worth sacrificing our freedoms, economy and livelihoods to dodge this virus?

There is a strong case for letting the virus run its course. According to Sky News, this is the approach both Sweden and Holland are taking. They are taking this invisible monster head on instead of cowering from it. Restaurants, pubs and coffee shops remain open — business as usual.

As long as we isolate ourselves from the virus we will never be immune to it (short of a vaccine). The virus could come back to bite us any time. What then? Should we sequester ourselves in our homes again? Or perhaps “shelter in place” indefinitely, to play it safe?

By current data, the survival rate from CV19 is 99%. If you go by Hawai‘i statistics, the survival rate is somewhat higher (without ventilators it would undoubtedly be lower). Symptoms range from almost none to suffocation. Some die, as with all flu epidemics. There are medications that stifle the virus and relieve symptoms. Hydroxychloroquine with zinc is one everyone is looking at, but there are others. Studies show any person who builds up an immunity to a virus cannot transmit the disease, even to the most vulnerable — kupuna. That immune person, quite literally, becomes part of the solution.

This opinion is currently being bolstered by many in the medical community, with a fair share of controversy. “Herd immunity,” they say, is achieved when 60% of the population is immune.

The drastic measures taken by our governments to protect us from this thing are worthy of our praise and gratitude. It has given us a safe window to reassess the situation. At the moment, there is no end in sight of the lock down. Some are promoting the idea of indefinite lock down, or until a vaccine is available. A vaccine may not be available for a year or more.

By then, ordered society will have crumbled into ugly chaos. It has already started. Again, is it worth it?

COVID-19 may never go away. It doesn’t die because it doesn’t live. It is now a permanent element in our environment that we need to adjust to or, otherwise, forgo our freedoms, our economy, our life’s work.

Freedom isn’t free. Some die in the cause of freedom for others. It has never been any other way.

Holland. By current count: 21,762 cases; 2,396 deaths. Nearly 10% mortality rate (at this count) for a people who refused to be caged by this monster. Recovered: 250. That leaves 19,366 Dutch still in the battlefield, fighting for freedom for their countrymen. To put things into perspective, the population of the Netherlands is 17.28 million (2019)

Without our livelihoods, are we really alive? The choice is ours.


Richard Morse is a resident of Kilauea.

Isolate, prevent island as ‘killing field’

Tip of the hat, and my profound gratitude to our mayor for recognizing the seriousness of the threat we individually and collectively share, and for his and our social response to the coronavirus. I appreciate the personal stress that everyone experiences who is still employed keeping our world functioning every time they leave home, and more so when they return. We pray for your safety.

We look forward to our mayor’s progress in re-opening county meetings to the public. Restoring our civil right to due process through online interaction at county meetings is possible. The audio quality of county meetings is currently terrible, and we the public have complained forever with no resolution to the too-low audio levels and lack of fully coherent transcripts.

Regular life goes on. We look forward to the criminal investigations in regards to the various apparent violations which occurred recently resulting in the damage to our bridge over Wailua River. Federal Clean Water Act violations apparently occurred, as well as failures of various state and county permits to protect the public’s riparian waters. How did it occur that thousands of tons of tree debris ended up in our river? Who chain-sawed all the logs and debris which dammed our river at our bridge? Who caused the debris dam and resulting property damage to people’s homes and lives who got flooded out, further damages to Coco Palms, and the serious damage to the highway base and the public’s bridge, which will likely need millions of dollars in repairs or replacement, not to mention the many feet of mud and sunken wood sitting on the reef system offshore from Lydgate to past Horner’s?

Regular life goes on. While trolling the public is a protected First Amendment right, it is less of an annoyance and more of a threat from the individuals who care to opine about matters in which they appear profoundly ignorant.

One pundit recently encouraged the public to adopt his and the president’s view that coronavirus is not a pandemic but a plot by dishonest news reporters, and that it (coronavirus) will go away shortly. Ironic, given that his hometown is now the world’s worst killing field for the virus. Please quit increasing the public’s risk from coronavirus and start supporting the mayor.

Another frequent pundit, who often informs us of his close relationship with his God, encouraged people to invest in the stock market. Apparently, now is the time for the godly to reap the blessing of profits from the grim reaper coronavirus. The market is a gamble on a game few know all the rules to. Profiting from the misery of others is apparently Christ-like behavior. Which might be why my shadow will never fall on the floor of his church.

I encourage everyone not to listen to pundits and their foolishness, and to pay attention to your own understanding of common sense. The virus is an existential threat to all our lives, and the stock market is always a gamble — so don’t gamble money, or a life, you can’t afford to lose.

My gratitude to everyone who is staying home, or going to work and risking more than I. Do your part to ensure Kaua‘i does not become a coronavirus killing field. Imua Kaua‘i.


Lonnie Sykos is a resident of Kapa‘a.

Isolation is a Kaua‘i advantage

Some of you know may know me as the running coach at Island School, but I am also the director of emergency medicine at a rural hospital in Arizona. I applaud Mayor Kawakami and the Kaua‘i County government for their swift and decisive actions in trying to limit the spread of COVID-19. Similar measures were instituted here on the Navajo Nation, and they are clearly working. Please understand how serious this illness can be for anyone, especially the most vulnerable. Think about the implications of going out and then think again about whether you really need to go out. Simple measures such as good hand hygiene and social distancing are effective. Kaua‘i has a special advantage by being isolated. Don’t squander your advantage. I can’t wait to return, but it may be a while. Aloha and be safe.

Eric Wortmann, M.D., Chinle, Arizona

Good Friday came with good news

If you are one of the 65% of Americans or 63% of people in Hawai‘i that identify with the Christian faith, you may find some recent good news interesting.

The holiest day of the year for Christians is considered by many to be Good Friday, celebrating the day Jesus was crucified on the cross. Before he died, Jesus pronounced, “tetelestai,” which has been translated “It is finished.” “Tetelestai” was also a Greek accounting word which means “paid in full.”

By being the only perfect human and then allowing the Satan and humans to do their greatest evil against him, Jesus mysteriously defeated all evil forces on the cross and paid the debt for everyone’s sin. Paul later wrote, “None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Cor 2:8).”

Good Friday was a tectonic shift in the reign of evil. In Jesus’ day, the Romans would abandon infants on the street and leave them to die. For fun, people would go to watch innocent people being fed alive to lions. If they were lucky enough to not be a slave, they would toil 12 hours for a small silver coin called a denarii ($3 worth of silver or 25 cents per hour in today’s money). Today, we still have evil to be rooted out, but the power of evil has been in general decline since the cross.

I have been tracking the number of active cases in Hawai‘i (cases in the previous 14 days). This number also peaked on Good Friday at 345 and has been declining since then. What a wonderful little reminder of the decline of evil since the original Good Friday.

Many thanks to everyone who is helping to defeat COVID-19.

Mark Beeksma, Koloa

  1. That's Rich April 18, 2020 3:19 am Reply

    Richard Morse – You (and by extension, your loved ones and close friends) first, please!

  2. Steven McMacken April 18, 2020 4:38 am Reply

    Decline of evil, Mark? Have you even bothered to take a look at what your President has done recently?

  3. ruthann jones April 18, 2020 5:40 am Reply

    Richard….right! So what if society sacrifices its’ kapuna and suseptible minority population…after all your ‘livelihood’ is SO much more important.

  4. merri murphy April 18, 2020 6:19 am Reply

    Richard Morse is soo right on.. My new best friend

  5. John Erwin April 18, 2020 11:36 am Reply

    Is anyone keeping tabs on what the major airlines like United, Delta, American, Alaska, and Southwest are doing vis-a-vis service to Lihue? There was a report on a NASDAQ exchange informational service that suggested United Airlines wants the Federal OK to cut back service even further to outer island airports (not Oahu) and small cities like Gunnison CO that is in central Colorado. We live here part-time on the north end of Kauai and are scheduled to leave May 7. We are booked on United. We have called them and the company response is our reservation is still good but that could all change in a heartbeat. It would be nice if the Major airlines could communicate their plans to Maui, Kauai, the Big Island, etc so that people who live here part time would know if they have a way of getting back to their other home on the mainland.

  6. Debra Kekaualua April 18, 2020 12:09 pm Reply

    Howsit Doc Wortmann, Actually, many more of us know you from the medical professional arena. I worked in the ER with you, when you showed us nursing school students a thing or two ehile on duty at Wilcox Hospital. So happy that you wrote a letter to TGI and more happy that you have engaged with the Navaho tribal nation! Due diligence research regarding Federal Recognition as it was applied to them and how U.S. has wanted to do similarly to Hawaii and cannot without a treaty of annexation, which the politicomilitarojudicio leaders cannot provide in real-time. But it is a fact and we know they cannot, as the treaty does not exist! The facts or Smoking Gun, Obama BC and all of us born here BC says State of Hawaii, a fraud. Lawfully legally, the BCs should say ‘Hawaiian Kingdom’. I hope in your down time you can read, J. Kauanue pHd dissertation book called “Hawaiian Blood”. The books’ depth is an eye-opener as it relates to the continental tribals and federal recognition could not be accomplished under the circumstances. We are Hawaiian Nationals. When you return, come by. Jr WH Maintenance and I were able to buy the house next door to the one you lived in on Ahakea street, Wailua Homesteads. We would love to host your stay, given the plans that brings you “home”. Aloha

  7. Molla Wallace April 18, 2020 12:12 pm Reply

    With all due respect, what Mr. Morris is saying about the Netherlands is simply not true. Our kids live there and our son-in-law lost his grandmother to the disease. It is an awful, lonely and painful death with no one to keep you company. The nurses and other staff are so busy taking care of patients that they don’t have time to provide emotional care and family has limited visitation. While the Netherlands may have been slow to sequester, it has been in place for several weeks. Most are working from home and they have similar rules in place to that of the USA. My son-in-law’s family has had several members get the disease. While most survived it was awful for even the youngest among them. His sister, a young adult, lives alone and had to fight the disease on her own with the terror of not knowing if she was going to live or die. Symptoms are not just issues with lungs, but joints can be very painful among other terrible symptoms. We just don’t know if we build immunity from contracting the disease. It is difficult for all of us, granted some more than others, but let’s err on the side of caution and continue to distance. Let’s do all we can to stop wet markets, and wait while scientists work on a vaccine and better treatment. Be healthy and safe!

  8. Citizen Cane April 18, 2020 12:33 pm Reply

    Well reasoned, Mr Morse, except our island’s limited health care resources would easily be swamped due to high transmission rates (contagion) of this novel corona—vs say, seasonal flu—not to mention the outsize risk to our (valiant but) vulnerable health care professionals. Kauai has the potential (geographically moated) with continued diligence, to open its own economy soon, first, then, with innovative testing protocols begin to allow carefully screened visitor traffic to begin to reopen the broader economy. If Kauai can stay its course we could achieve the goal of becoming a safe destination, controlling influx at a pace deemed prudent, and begin the restoration of normalcy and economic vitality.

  9. LMat April 18, 2020 3:52 pm Reply

    So, Richard Morse, you’re suggesting the deaths of people of a certain demographic to ensure the livelihood of you and those of your ilk. There’s a name for what you’re suggesting, it’s called HUMAN SACRIFICE. Ancient cultures like the Mayans did it to appease their gods and ensure the well-being of their crops. Talk about crumbling into ugly chaos…

  10. IKUDIAS April 18, 2020 7:36 pm Reply

    I agree mark, THANK BUDDHA!!! – oh wait a minute…..let me ponder that one

  11. andy johnston April 18, 2020 10:16 pm Reply

    Hey Richard Morse- 10% mortality rate is ok? When we could certainly keep it MUCH less than that by sacrificing our “precious” freedoms for a few weeks/months? Thank God you are not in charge here, that’s an amazingly heartless view of a serious, but ultimately temporary challenge. I take a lot of hope out of the fact that I see folks here making the necessary sacrifices every day, as difficult as they may be, to protect the lives of their precious loved ones. Anything less than that is a callous and calculated disregard for life itself.

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