As the planet battles the COVID-19 pandemic, we here on Kaua‘i can feel relatively safe for a few reasons. First and foremost, our primary safety barrier is the Pacific Ocean moat that surrounds us, guaranteeing a wide social-distancing area between us and other large land masses. What has helped to keep us safe has been the swift and decisive action taken by our mayor, Derek Kawakami.
Of course, rules and guidelines are only as good as those who are sworn to enforce them and by those who abide by the mandates because they care about everyone’s well being. But, we must give credit where it is due and congratulate the mayor for his diligence in keeping on top of the news, analyzing the changing dynamics of the disease and acting in accordance with what is in the best interest of us, the citizens of Kaua‘i.
Although you may be affected in ways that you don’t think are apt for the situation, it’s hard to deny that the mayor has done things that benefit the majority and without malice towards any one group.
The most important of his moves has been the nighttime quarantine, the wearing of masks and implementing the 14-day quarantine to try to deter tourists from coming here. Even though our island economy revolves around tourism (including both my wife’s and my job), we all need to understand that the sacrifice we give now is in an effort to keep our numbers down and to prevent community spread from taking hold as it has on O‘ahu, Big Island and Maui. If we can continue to self quarantine, staying at home as much as possible, we have the best chance of stopping the disease from needlessly taking island residents’ lives.
To those of you who are having a difficult time with money, food, shelter, etc., I sincerely hope that you are able to get the help that you need through the public-assistance process and with the help of family and friends. If you are weathering the situation well, there is no reason for you to balk at the simple requests being asked of you.
We are going stir crazy, feeling bored, getting lazy, missing friends, gaining weight/getting out of shape. But just be thankful that we are so lucky to just have this to deal with instead of what is going on in so many big cities around the world.
I’d like to send a big shout-out to all our first responders, (police, fire and EMTs), health-care professionals and to all those who keep the food moving to be within our reach. You truly are our heroes!
Thank you Mayor Kawakami for your regular updates, for telling us the truth about the number of coronavirus victims on Kaua‘i and for your foresight in fighting the pandemic BEFORE it became an emergency. But mostly, I want to send out a huge mahalo to you for leading by example.
Jack Custer is a resident of Kalaheo.