Begin now to plan for a healthier future

This letter is in response to Dr. Evslin’s letter printed on your editorial page (Health in the News, May 11).

I have much respect for Dr. Evslin and his work in our community. I was very happy to see his point (near the end of his letter) about the preventable health conditions that cause serious reactions in COVID-19 patients. I completely agree that our very best efforts should be focused on immune-building programs. It makes so much more sense to invest in programs (perhaps through our kupuna programs, in all of our schools and community centers) that would teach and support our residents to build and maintain better health.

Beyond that point, I must respectfully disagree with the other opinions stated in his letter. Sadly, the current COVID-19 regulations and the perspective our leaders are taking toward the needs of our island residents seems paralyzed in a crisis of fear.

One of Dr. Evslin’s first points was “Kaua‘i has done a great job limiting the spread, but COVID-19 is far from eliminated.” We all know from science that viruses are not eliminated. They lay dormant and they mutate. They can be mitigated and be made ineffectual by our strong, God-given immune systems. I am not anti-vax, as we all know that vaccination can be a good tool to prevent some infection. But vaccination is NEVER 100% effective, and it does pose some risk for side effects. As I mentioned above, a stronger immune function would benefit every individual, and can be applied to every person, even to those with pre-existing health issues.

Dr. Evslin’s comment about the mainland posing as much of a threat to us as China originally did to the rest of the world is very alarmist, and it reveals a very narrow perspective. We must realize that there are constant threats posed to our health. We live among those threats daily, and we are all wise to learn to mitigate those threats by our personal actions and by understanding the factors that we can control. Exposure is the most difficult thing to control. Unless we agree to live in a bubble, we are always exposed to outside influences (electro-magnetic, chemical, virus, germ, etc.). What we know about COVID-19: this virus is novel in its easy transmission and the way it can spread without any recognizable symptoms. We also now know that it is an illness with a very low threat to approximately 99% of our population.

We should use that current understanding and the updated statistics to form a more intelligent response to the COVID-19 threat, but also to prepare our communities for a healthier future. Let’s assess those with higher risks for infection and disease, then support and protect them in a way that allows our healthy population to live our fullest lives. We CAN live full, healthy lives, and protect our weaker and infirm citizens, without shutting down our economy or damaging the future for our keiki.

We have recently learned that safer at home has been scientifically debunked, and statistics have proven that incubation in the home has produced the highest number of cases that needed hospitalization nationwide. We are so lucky to live in Hawai‘i, where we have an abundance of sun and fresh air. I believe that is one of the factors that have kept our COVID-19 case numbers so low, even though we are exposed to so many travelers.

Instead of encouraging people to stay home, shouldn’t we encourage healthy lifestyle habits for a “healthy living is safer living” set of recommendations?

Fear and stress have been documented to have a negative effect on our health and vitality, causing me to be greatly concerned about the fear and crisis approach that our leaders have taken toward COVID-19. Let’s move toward a more be healthy, be happy mentality.

Thoughts of tracking, sanitizing and quarantining can make many people more stressed, and add an undercurrent of anxiety to our daily lives.

We do not — and should not — live in a sterile environment. Our immune systems are like a muscle. If we “sanitize” everything in our everyday lives our immune system will actually weaken. Chemical hand sanitizers can kill off bacteria and viruses, but they have the unwanted side effect of also killing off our friendly bacteria (those are the healthy bacteria that fight off infection), causing our immune function to be further compromised.

We know this from the documented side effects of antibiotic overuse, and the rise of “super-bugs.” We need to educate people that overuse of hand sanitizers and attempted sterilization of every surface could set us up for a frightening susceptibility to infection. Our entire population should be paying attention to a healthy diet and determine if they should supplement their diet with quality probiotics.

Regarding our visitor-based economy, let’s ask ourselves, can we find ways to welcome our visitors in a safe way? We can look to the example of people bringing their pets into our state. We found out that the drastically long quarantine that we used to require was not necessary. We also need to ask: Is this risk our visitors impose more serious than the risks caused by the economic devastation to our businesses?

We need to view all of the recommendations Dr. Evslin wrote about in light of a more realistic assessment of the risk of infection. If the infection, after more documentation, proves to be a very low risk to the population at whole, wouldn’t it be wiser to put into place more support and protection for our vulnerable citizens? I think we would all be happy to allow our kupuna and health-compromised individuals to get special privileges like special shopping hours, etc., while they stay at home and receive any necessary benefits and support needed. This would be so much more efficient and effective. Save the people at risk and let our healthy residents live full and unrestricted lives.

We all need to assess how the drastic proposals to reduce tourism and the fear-based presumptions could limit our lives and our opportunities.

I do agree with Dr. Evslin that our island would benefit from a reassessment in regard to our overdependence on tourism. We all would like to see more affordable housing, and more food grown on this island, but we also need to realize that these objectives can only be achieved by a healthy economy. We need to get our island back to work, and we need to apply our tax money in ways that will help us accomplish these important goals.

But let’s be careful and not try to impose “a new world order” based on this virus fear. We are inhabitants of a beautiful island, with gifts and experiences that are valuable to our world. I am not opposed to limiting tourism to make sure that our island ecology and community are not harmed, but that planning needs to be well thought and implemented over time. We need to bring back our local businesses to be sure that our island residents and our keiki have the opportunities that they were promised before this crisis began and, with that mindset, we can begin to plan for a healthier future.

With respect and appreciation.


Michele Dillberg is a resident of Koloa.

  1. DONALD L winslow May 16, 2020 4:17 am Reply

    Finally, a well written, thought out analysis. We have all heard so many knee jerk responses of late, Thank you Ms. Dillberg for posting.

  2. Ricardo May 16, 2020 5:33 am Reply

    Great letter!! Great Synthesis of Aloha!! There are folks in Lihue and in Honolulu who would much benefit from reading this letter. Mahalo!

  3. james May 16, 2020 7:03 am Reply

    You lost me with: “We have recently learned that safer at home has been scientifically debunked….”? Really? I hadn’t heard this and you provide no scientific evidence to back up this wild claim. So it’s safer not to stay at home, and it’s safer for us to mingle with others in large groups without masks while displaying signs about 5G and Bill Gates trying to control our minds and that the earth is actually flat? Whatever floats your boat I guess. One of the bright spots, entertainment-wise, with this whole mess are the multitude of creative conspiracy theories flooding social media. Hours of entertainment!

    1. Charlie Chimknee May 20, 2020 8:43 pm Reply

      Oh James, your mind has gone awry…there’s no conspiracies, there’s only CAPITALISM, the primal concept of greater income at any cost.

      You know fake an everyday illness to spring a Vaccine sale that profits in the hundreds of billions of dollars becoming trillions of dollars when it becomes your annual flu shot, that denies you effective natural immunity and accelerates the numbers of deaths in the believers who think they are getting immunity via a face virus vaccine.

      You’d think $4 Trillion a year income for the medical industry would be enough, but no , not with the concept of Capitalism..

      Have another Zantac…after your next red hot dog.

  4. WestsideResident May 16, 2020 8:53 am Reply

    The Mayor’s response to the virus has been mo different than the response an sixth grader would recommend.

    Get scared.

    We need to live with this virus. Shutting down our economy is causing more problems than it has solved. Where is tye increased capacity to care for sick individuals?

    Where is the budget going to come from to sustain appropriate resources for such care over time?

    The mayor is counting on a bailout to get through this.

    Nothing to be admired.

    1. wherever May 18, 2020 4:28 pm Reply

      Please, elaborate the analysis. I’m sure we’d all love to hear this comparison of the financial numbers and the numbers of lives.

  5. Merci Schon May 16, 2020 9:10 am Reply

    In response to Michele Dillberg – Well said and well thought out. As noted once before, I have been visiting family (and as a tourist) on beautiful Kauai for forty years. I would hate to think that I would be restricted from visiting again. But, I do agree that safer measures need to be taken to protect the residents of Kauai. I can only pray that those who have a voice in making major decisions take everything into consideration. Perhaps even put Michele on a committee to initiate new policy.

  6. Paulo May 16, 2020 11:37 am Reply

    Regarding Michele Dillberg’s piece on a Healthier Future, there have been very healthy individuals who have lost their lives to COVID-19 including athletes and other clean living people who eat right and exercise. It is not a virus that can be avoided by doing more to increase our immunol response. It is that very response from our immune systems that can kill us. Some of us have a light immune response and we recover. Others have an immune system that goes on overdrive and it’s our own strong immune system that is causing the morbidity and death.

    As far as hoping for lasting immunity if we survive the virus, there is yet consensus, but we do know that there are survivors who relapse or are reinfected some weeks later including 5 USS Roosevelt sailors in Guam among others.

    So until we have a valid treatment and/or vaccine almost anyone can be infected if the virus is present. But not everyone will be affected similarly.

  7. Alohilani May 16, 2020 11:42 am Reply

    Well said thank you!
    The problem we all had since years is that most people get wrong informations by mainstream media .
    They believe what they were told. Panic, fear and sience only from one point of the view !
    We all need to come back to a sience of discussion, serching for real data (not making up fake modelings).
    Everybody who is thinking outside the box knows that in this case it’s not about the carring for your health anymore . The democratic mayors and governors try to log you up as long as possible.
    And now I will refere to this very good article .
    If there is a virus , germ etc. and you have a strong immune sytem you will handle it.
    But one important thing is : take of your masks !!!!
    I know we are still in a mandate to wear a mask but think, why we have to ? The time when there were some covid cases on the island no one had to wear a mask and nothing was speading. After everybody recovered and the island was “covid free” we all have to do it now?
    If you wear a mask over a longer period you inhale your exhale- co2-. The bood oxygen content decreases and that mean your immune system can’t work properly,you can promote inflammations, the possibility of cardiovascular (heart attack) and cerebrovascular (stroke) deseases are rising.
    Nature is very clever and so everything what does not belongs in your respiratory track you exhale but with mask you have to inhale it again and in a worth case by example a virus can get through your olfectory nerves into your brain!

    So, please Mr. Mayor, if you are really interested in the health of you kama aina please led your people get rid of this masks !!!

    1. Charlie Chimknee May 20, 2020 9:04 pm Reply

      Aloha Alohilani,

      Plus too yet, with the masks with the foamy looking filters, you get plastic petrochemicals on each inhale, a direct free side effect of Carcinogenic, cancer causing oil and coal tar derivatives.

      Out of the pan and into the fire.

      Forgive them Father for they know not what they Inhale.
      Some think nothing of inhaling cigs, cigars, pipe tobacco, pakalolo, crack, E-cigs, opium, meth, Los Ángeles or Beijing Air, burning tires at the beach, industrial waste from coal burning plants, and Plasticized air filters, what’s in your A/C…?

  8. Pete Antonson May 16, 2020 2:13 pm Reply

    Using “We have learned” to toss the Stay at Home method the whole world is using is just as good as trump saying: “Many people are talking about…” No, no, no, baby, you cite your evidence and your case

  9. Scott May 17, 2020 9:30 am Reply

    Thank you Michele. Any thoughts about hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as pertains to CV19? According to one family story, I learned I have a distant relative somewhere in Hawaii that was succesfully treated for CV19 using a “malaria drug”, antibiotics, and perhaps another drug that may have dealt with inflamation. No ventilation required. I was not able to ascertain the exact meds prescribed but the story piqued my curiosity so I looked into what it could have been. I found HCQ is a “malaria” drug. HCQ seems quite controversial, being valued at a local level by front line doctors both in the USA and abroad, but often scorned by media experts and at the national and policy levels here in the USA. Thanks again.

    1. SimpleSolutions May 18, 2020 1:20 pm Reply

      Mainstream media is not going to report any positive outcomes from the use of Hydroxychloroquine + Ztap as the media has made the use of this drug combination a political issue because the President said it could be a game changer.

      The CDC, FDA, and Educators won’t recommend this treatment without the results of random double blind studies which will take up to a year and a half to get statistically significant results.

      The fact is that Hydroxychloroquine has been used for malaria for seventy years now and there are few side effects when prescribed by a doctor, This drug is safe and prescribed regularly as a prophylatic to tourist when traveling to areas where malaria is prevalent. It may also be a prophylatic for Covid-19 too based on the observed death rates in malaria-riden areas like India.

      The media stresses the side effects (heart issues) related to the drug which occur very infrequently when given under doctor supervision. Keep in mind all drugs have side effects (even those in your medicine cabinet…aspirin, tylenol, antacids).

      Until the random double blind studies are complete, there can only be observational studies (looking at results of people taking the drug without a control group to measure the results).

      There are numerous observational studies that indicate that Hydroxychloroquine and Ztap are effective in the early treatment of Covid-19, The media won’t report these studies because they are not random double blind studies and the observations support Trump’s recommendation.

      On the other hand, when observational studies show poor results (Columbia University Study and VA Study) then the media jumps on these studies to prove that Hydroxychloroquine is ineffective, Both the Columbia University and VA studies have been proven to be statistically insignificant and very biased.

      It’s sad that the media has made this a political issue rather than a medical issue. At the start of this pandemic there was no known treatment and using a malaria drug (that has shown some success in China) that is safe was better than doing nothing. Eight weeks later, maybe the mortality rate is much lower than once believed because of this drug…won’t know until the studies are completed in months or years.

      If you had Covid-19, knowing that this drug appears to work, has been used safely for decades, and has few side effects….What do you have to lose?

      Unfortunately, the debate over this drug is going to continue until the double blind studies are completed….My guess is that we will see results at the end of October or early November….just around election time.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.