Praying for mayor, a ‘more intelligent focus’ on infirm, elderly

Dear mayor.

I voted for you. I attended your campaign fundraisers, and I am part of a community of people who have been rooting for you all along.

But I am also a concerned citizen. You may be aware that I have written to you before, but I have never received a response from you. There are many perspectives surrounding the COVID-19 response, and I do respect that you have been hit from all sides with the economic devastation caused by this crisis.

Because this is an unprecedented worldwide virus pandemic (with the emotional reactions and strict regulations set forth) we have all been in a “best-guess” situation. Our world has never been shut down before, and once it was shut down, no one seems to know the best way to re-open it. I would like to add another perspective, and hopefully a voice of reason, to allow a broader lens as we view our way forward.

I used the word “unprecedented” above in description of our virus crisis. But as a result of our “best-guess” measures to contain the virus, we now have unprecedented business failure and unemployment. Sadly, we know that these things can lead to unprecedented alcohol abuse, unprecedented domestic violence, and unprecedented emotional and personal loss.

At this point it is important that we account for the wildly inaccurate models that promoted our overblown virus response, and we need to reassess where we should go from here. Our fantastically low case numbers and zero death statistics should be further amplified to include “serious illness” statistics.

How many of our cases were actually hospitalized? What were the underlying medical concerns of the people who did suffer serious illness effects? These facts can help us identify what steps we can take to make sure we put the proper attention on our ailing economy while we reopen safely.

With updated statistics we can better assess how many hospital beds would more accurately be needed if our case numbers do go up as we start to welcome visitors once again. We don’t need to panic, we just need to educate and prepare. Now that we know that it is just a small percentage of people who actually have severe symptoms, and how few actually need to be hospitalized, we can have a more logical response to this very-contagious-but-not-often-serious virus. Let’s put a more intelligent focus on our infirm and elderly. Let’s educate all of our residents to boost immune function and increase healthy habits, which would reduce serious symptom responses and reduce the need for hospitalization.

Let’s put our focus and resources where our residents can benefit from them. High-risk people, the frail, the sick, the elderly — they should be social distancing, sheltering in place and wearing masks. We can offer special accommodations for them (early hours at stores, social services to offer shopping, etc.).

Otherwise, healthy people should be able to make personal decisions for their own immune systems and safety. The true science on cloth masks show that they are wholly ineffective, a huge waste of resources and an unnecessary source of stress for everyday life.

Speaking of wasting resources, requiring stores to wipe down every grocery cart, limiting access to stores, and all of the other alarmist things we are doing, haven’t shown to really do anything. Let’s just wash our hands and spend valuable resources on education and immune support.

I pray for you as you continue to make these important decisions that will be best revealed by history, and I am thankful for your time and attention to this letter. We truly live in unprecedented times, and I am hopeful that we will enjoy an unprecedented recovery.

With respect.


Michele Dillberg is a resident of Koloa.

  1. FRANCIS SCHON May 22, 2020 2:32 am Reply

    When preventive health measures work how quickly we can minimize the importance of those measures. The anti-vaxers are an example of a group who benefited from childhood immunization but now argue that childhood immunization is a bad thing – until their church, social group, town, etc. has an outbreak. The behavior of people protesting successful, preventative health care interventions, makes think of the dog that walks in front of a car who does not realize the danger until the moment of impact.

  2. Makani May 22, 2020 6:01 am Reply

    Wearing masks is the most effective way to stop the spread of Covid19! To think otherwise would be nativity by definition. Thanks to our mayor for his early and decisive action that saved potentially thousands of lives.

  3. JudeB May 22, 2020 6:39 am Reply

    Michele, living in Kauai has spared you the full ugliness and terror this disease has brought to many others. It’s not just the high-risk and frail. I personally know young people (plural) who’ve been to the ER/hospitalized and even died from covid. When it is your family or your child or your friend, it’s not so easy to dismiss as “not that serious.” You are also misinformed about how it spreads. If you are healthy, you can be asymptomatic and give it to anyone (including your child and your grandma). You are further misinformed about cloth masks–the latest published research shows they are 75% effective. The answer isn’t to panic. But putting out misinformation helps no one.

  4. Daniel Plunkett May 22, 2020 7:29 am Reply

    Well said!

  5. Craig Millett May 22, 2020 8:35 am Reply

    Dear Michele Dillberg,

    How kind of you to lavish such faint praise on our courageous mayor and then go blithely on with armchair analysis while failing to note that our mayor’s actions produced clearly the best results of any county in our state and possibly the nation! First and foremost of these was stopping the flow of visitors which although it it had the side effect on the economy also clearly saved lives, possibly your own. Additionally that allowed us to have a clear picture of the vulnerabilities our economy creates for the people of our county. The last thing we need to do is to rush back to the way it was. Many of the same people who are suffering now were ill served by the ludicrously low wages that extractive businesses such as industrial tourism so callously pay. In the current economy our society serves money. We need to reverse that so that money serves our society. Your narrow-minded nitpicking is not helpful.

    1. SimpleSolutions May 22, 2020 4:56 pm Reply

      Michele… should be a lead writer for this newspaper.

      Instead of your columns being published on Fridays, they need to be published on Mondays so they do not get hidden by the weekend.

      Don’t be discouraged by the nay-sayers….there are a lot of people that feel just like you but are afraid to say it out loud.

  6. Nike May 22, 2020 9:16 am Reply

    I completely disagree with this writer. Most of us support our Mayor with pride. He has been the gold standard for other all other mayors and public servants world wide in his response to COVID-19. He has done what was and is right in the face of frustrations and complaints. His care for our kapuna deserves only appreciation.

  7. Steven Stevenson May 22, 2020 12:39 pm Reply

    People need to understand the purpose of wearing the masks before saying they don’t work. Will a cloth mask prevent you from possibly inhaling the virus? Nope. But if you happen to have the virus unknowingly it can reduce the chances of you spreading it. Think of it this way, when you sneeze do you cover your mouth? Obviously your hand isn’t a magic filter that somehow prevents everything from getting out. But that doesn’t mean you should say f*ck it and sneeze right in everyone’s face.

    1. Charlie Chimknee May 22, 2020 10:31 pm Reply

      Aloha Steve x 2, seen thousands of mask, ain’t seen nor heard a sneeze yet…waste of time…but goes to show…


      1. steven stevenson May 23, 2020 3:03 pm Reply

        Have you seen people breathing? Because when you exhale water vapor which spread viruses. But you are probably right since you did so much research. I mean what do doctors know right?

  8. I saw a Vampire once May 22, 2020 2:23 pm Reply

    You’re a strange man. That is because you are not the mayor. We did our homework in school. Not you athletes in politics. All you athletes claiming to be a politician are flawed. More for the accused means not getting the job done.

  9. Rick May 22, 2020 4:17 pm Reply

    Its amazing how people can’t grasp this concept of putting time and resources into taking care of the less than 1% of people affected by this virus (in our case 0%) instead of spending time and resources in developing measures/cures for the 99% who don’t have any issues with it.

    The reality of the situation is most people don’t know crap about bacteria and viruses.

    Good Job Michelle, Keep um coming!

    1. Kauaidoug May 23, 2020 8:26 am Reply

      When the 14 day is lifted then one asymptomatic visitor slips through , goes ziplining for instance, infects a couple of healthy young guides who then go home to their friends and family and you have a problem. Then it is purely luck or unlucky of the draw and we are behind the ball like we have not experienced like other places. We as Americans are individualists and not used to thinking of society as a whole. The whole mask thing is moot in Asia . We are vurus free because if what the mayor gas done. Kudos to him.

  10. Malia May 22, 2020 4:24 pm Reply

    Michelle, you are on it. Spot on it. Anyone who disagrees is depending on their slave drivers to free them.

    1. Filetofish May 23, 2020 5:17 am Reply

      So what are you saying here? That the healthy people have a right to carry on our lives and you dont believe masks work then you say masks do work for the elderly? That all these precautions are futile? The only way to really open this island is to accept tourists, and when that happens there is the potential for all of those pictures of hell which hopefully you believe in have a high probability of happening. Basically the take away f rom this confusing letter is that you believe in science and then you don’t and then you use prayer with false compassion.. Prayer does not mix well with science in my book.

  11. AVCWBCOACH May 22, 2020 7:53 pm Reply

    Ahh, the armchair quarterbacks coming. Mayor and his team are not asleep and you are wrong to suggest he lacks in intelligence..Be patient, this is new territory the whole world is in. Bravo to Mayor DK, let him do his job, please.

  12. Loooooo May 22, 2020 8:36 pm Reply

    Well said, Michele.

  13. WestsideResident May 23, 2020 3:08 am Reply

    Exactly, well said. Never met you, but we see
    it the same way.

    I’ll add:
    Shutting down is a reflexive action, consequences are ignored. Bad decisions galore. Weak leadership because only politically safe decisions were made. The mayor should own the consequences. Kawakami’s economy.

  14. Loo May 23, 2020 7:41 am Reply

    Well said, Michele.

  15. Uncleaina May 23, 2020 8:40 am Reply

    Michele it honestly doesn’t matter what you think. I’m glad you have no choice because sounding like you would make poor decisions. 96,000 Americans have died since February Michele. And that’s with the most drastic changes to society ever made EVER. It’s nothing like the seasonal flu for which 170,000,000 people in our country get vaccinated against every year, because without a vaccine and without these measures, well over 1,000,000 people would already be dead. Sweden’s experiences show this. So yeah that’s interesting that you think our mayor hasn’t done a good job – but he has.

  16. Anon Ymous May 23, 2020 9:57 am Reply

    The response to the virus was not “overblown.”

    We were small enough to be able to limit it here. But at some point the quarantine for those incoming will be eased, or less aggressively enforced. At some point people will let their guard down or think it’s over. And when it comes in here again, we’re going to be small enough for it to go through most of our community overnight.

    We have more mainland college students returning home now, right as we’re “reopening.” They better take quarantine seriously.

    Don’t be surprised when this thing comes through again. It’s just sitting on our doorstep waiting for us to poke our head out the door to see if it’s still there. It is.

  17. LTEreader May 23, 2020 9:58 am Reply

    “Otherwise, healthy people should be able to make personal decisions for their own immune systems and safety.”

    These same “healthy” people can be asymptomatic and unaware. Great example:
    5.10.20 “Less than a week after reopening, thousands of South Korean bars and clubs have been shut down again after a single person sparked a new outbreak of COVID-19. The man went out in Seoul last Saturday, South Korean health officials said, and now up to 40 new cases of the deadly disease have reportedly been linked to the bars he went to. The 29-year-old didn’t wear a mask. He wasn’t aware he was infected, but tested positive on Tuesday. More than 1500 people are believed to have visited the same three bars he went to. Thousands more who went to other bars in the area have been urged to get tested. Just because of a few people’s carelessness, all our efforts so far can go to waste, said Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon.”

    “The true science on cloth masks show that they are wholly ineffective, a huge waste of resources and an unnecessary source of stress for everyday life.”

    5.20.20: “Researchers have found that wearing surgical masks can significantly reduce the rate of airborne COVID-19 transmission, according to a study released on Sunday. The study, conducted by a team of scientists in Hong Kong, found the rate of non-contact transmission through respiratory droplets or airborne particles dropped by as much as 75 percent when masks were used. The findings implied to the world and the public is that the effectiveness of mask-wearing against the coronavirus pandemic is huge, said Dr. Yuen Kwok-yung, a leading microbiologist from Hong Kong University.”

    And you refer to yourself as a “voice of reason” ? Not so much. Kaua’i only has 9 intensive care beds and 18 ventilators. IF one person infected 40 people here, and only 1/4 of them needed hospitalization we’d be screwed!
    Michele, it’s time to put on a mask, and educate yourself. We’ve done a great job so far. Lets not blow it because some are impatient and think they know more than the scientists that are trying to figure out the next step.

    1. Everythingisawesome May 23, 2020 2:05 pm Reply

      You don’t want to be put on a ventilator. They do more harm than good. Don’t believe me? You can find all this info online. cPAP or BiPAP won’t damage your lungs. Our nation’s crusade to build thousands of ventilators is a fools errand.

    2. Everythingisawesome May 23, 2020 3:01 pm Reply

      I apologize, that was a misleading statistic. 10% of confirmed infections require hospitalization. Between 5% and 80% of infections produce no symptoms. The range is so broad I won’t include it. One person still needs to infect about 90 people to put 9 in the hospital. Those 9 may or may not require ICU.

      1. Anon June 12, 2020 5:32 am Reply

        That being said…Kauai was gifted at least a Million Dollars by Zuckerberg. If Kauai slammed our door shut so hard for so long in order to keep our peoples safe, especially since we have very limited ICU ETC…then what happened to that money? Did we stockpile medication/treatments/equipment proven to be effective/helpful? DId additional ICU rooms get put together?
        Is that not one lesson we should pay attention to?

  18. Everythingisawesome May 23, 2020 11:40 am Reply

    Yes. Agree. Thank you for your sane, civil letter.

    BTW, the study referenced above was performed on hamsters. Poor, defenseless, furry hamsters. And regardless of the study results and the constructs lack of “real world” applicability, cute rodents in cages vs. Big Bruddah in the checkout line at Walmart, a cloth mask and a surgical mask are not the same thing.

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