Letters for Sunday, June 7, 2020

Mental-health services needed for the island

We need aloha mental health. We need to live it.

Kauians’ lives have been and will continue to be changed because of COVID-19. It’s not comfortable saying that we need to take advantage of the COVID condition in Kaua‘i, but we must. Suicide, drug, alcohol and domestic abuse, economic uncertainty are not acceptable. What about the high percentage of suicides and domestic violence that never gets reported?

What we need to do is educate. We need to be proactive. So we can listen better and talk with an open heart for the long-term future of harmonious mental health of Kaua‘i.

Start now, through education to Kaua‘i’s community and, most importantly, to Kaua‘i’s children. Teach the children about their future. What’s coming to them. Teach them about aloha mental health. Teach them it’s not a destination, it’s a journey. Teach them about the work it will take to stay healthy.

The most important of all (is) creating family recovery programs for long-term aloha mental health. Kaua‘i is an island of family.

We need recovery centers and rehabilitation centers here on Kaua‘i that are family- and community-supported for our long-term, sustainable, aloha mental health. We need to assemble an interactive team of caring professionals and volunteers to build this islandwide network of aloha health.

Our clinicians will have the most important role for long-term, sustainable recovery, helping Kauaians cope with the changes the world will bring to Kaua‘i, along with a remarkable, creative economic team, for guaranteed, continued, sustainable growth and continuous learning.

Mental health is not a destination, it’s a journey.

If Kauians are a healthy, harmonious, aloha community, Kaua‘i’s guests will feel that way, too. For Kaua‘i forward to work, there needs to be a new way of healthy, economic, productive growth. It’s what we all need now.

Aloha mental health is a state of grace for the mind, body and soul; of love, affection, tolerance, mercy and gratitude.

When brimming with gratitude, one’s heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know.


Craig Chenoweth, Kekaha

Sad the island isn’t yet fully reopened

I have been watching with interest the events on Kaua‘i and the impact COVID-19 has had on our lovely island.

I am really happy that there haven’t been any COVID-19 cases on Kaua‘i for many weeks now. I am saddened, however, that Mayor Kawakami hasn’t done anything to open the island fully. Maybe he is not adept at science, but there are many solutions available today, and his science advisers should have told him so.

First of all, the county should have bought COVID-19 analysis systems (sold by many companies like Cepheid — I found them on the web) that provide results in minutes, therefore doing away with quarantine.

Visitors arrive, get tested, and if negative, they go about their visit, and if positive they go to quarantine. This way you don’t depend on another state or airport’s testing facilities. This should have started already.

Secondly, COVID-19 has created an air of mistrust between citizens. Even when things open up, people will be afraid to come in contact with others, especially visitors, just in case they get COVID-19. This will take time to undo.

Thirdly, the fact that the tourism industry is almost dead has severe repercussions. When the tourists don’t arrive anymore, there is no income in many sectors of the economy, no jobs get created and no profit is made anywhere and, importantly, no taxes collected. Thus, the county starts cutting services. With services cut, the economy shrinks, and the next thing you know is that the big companies realize they are not making money on Kaua‘i anymore, so they leave.

All because the county didn’t get some COVID testing machines to examine visitors, restart the economy and create a guaranteed COVID-19-free zone.

Do you really want this as your legacy? I don’t think so. For the sake of the future of the wondeful people on Kaua‘i, their families and the economy, let science do its thing and restart Kaua‘i before it’s just too late.

Peter P. Vekinis, Kapa‘a

  1. nothings free June 7, 2020 4:50 am Reply

    Thank you for the letter Peter! Unfortunately, you’re speaking of things that are way over our elected Politicians ability to comprehend.

  2. Lynette Brooks June 7, 2020 6:03 am Reply

    If someone is traveling here, they have been at airports, in airplanes, and possibly gone through multiple locations. They could have been exposed to COVID-19 on the way to Kauai. They are not going to test positive as soon as they land, but could be harboring and incubating the virus.

  3. John Patt June 7, 2020 7:47 am Reply

    Peter, my understanding is that mandatory testing is illegal. I do not understand the rationale for this, and would like to hear more info about it. Mandatory testing would facilitate our economic recovery.
    Other options are 1) choose voluntary testing or mandatory quarantine, and 2) antibody testing.

    1. numilalocal June 7, 2020 12:23 pm Reply

      John, your understanding is incorrect. Emergency measures do not infringe on anyone’s rights.

  4. Everythingisawesome June 7, 2020 8:24 am Reply

    Peter, thank you for trying to get the ball rolling. The Mayor and Governor are in ‘follow mode’ and will likely not move on anything until until Kauai and Hawaii are DOA. I think the Mayor’s hands have been tied by the Governor. Florida: mostly open. California: mostly open. Texas: mostly open. Spread of infections? Primarily in jails, skilled nursing facilities and hospitals. Beaches and open air are not where the virus is spread, which is 95% of Kauai. No resident of Kauai has caught the virus from a tourist, even in early March when infected people were known to be on island. All of what I just wrote are facts, not opinions. More than enough information for the Governor to make a decision, based on science, to ease restrictions while protecting the highest risk demographics. Yet he hasn’t. Still waiting? Just wait longer.

    It would be helpful for decision making, to know how many cases on the other islands were caused by tourist-to-resident transmission. Do we have that data?

    For further consideration…
    “the county should have bought COVID-19 analysis systems”.
    Cost? The county, as far as we know, hasn’t even bought any additional ventilators or masks (N95) that are actually effective at stopping something as small as a virus. BTW, did you know that some of those N95 masks have a one way valve that allows everything the wearer expels to exhaust directly unfiltered into the environment? So much for “my mask protects you.” Cloth masks, as you might guess, are even less effective. “Your cloth face covering ‘may’ protect them,” is the verbiage on the CDC website. ‘May’.

    “Visitors arrive, get tested, and if negative, they go about their visit, and if positive they go to quarantine”.

    What if one member of a family, or travelling group, test positive? How about the person that sat next to/in front of/behind the positive person on the plane? Where, and with whom, do they quarantine? This idea of testing arrivals (not just visitors) keeps getting kicked about but nobody (a decision maker) has addressed, or really considered, any of these issues. Or perhaps, they have considered the issues, found it to be an puzzle without a solution, and that is why we aren’t ‘open’ already. I would give arrival or departure testing about three days before the idea gets scrapped due to complications and lawsuits. Not to mention, we respect medical privacy in the United States. I’m not required to tell anyone if I’ve had a flu shot or if I’m HIV positive or had an abortion. If one’s right to travel freely within the US is conditional on my medical history, you’d better have a good justification for suspending that right. An abundance virus deaths in nursing homes 4900 miles away (yes, NY is 4900 miles from HI), with no previous history of a tourist giving the virus to a Kauai resident is a pretty hand-wavy case. “Hand-wavy” is an often used legal term when the evidence doesn’t prove the claim.

    “create a guaranteed COVID-19-free zone.”
    Well, if we can achieve this, why not make this available to the at-risk groups immediately? I think if it was possible we wouldn’t still be seeing outbreaks in nursing homes on the mainland. There are some spaces that are more “COVID-19 free” than others…like, the beach and open spaces.

    Thank you for your time and your civil letter.

  5. LTEreader June 7, 2020 9:37 am Reply

    “First of all, the county should have bought COVID-19 analysis systems (sold by many companies like Cepheid — I found them on the web) that provide results in minutes, therefore doing away with quarantine.”

    Peter, it’s time to improve your research skills. There’s a few ‘rapid result’ tests on the market, however so far they have a high percentage of false positive results = unreliable.
    People need to quit blaming Mayor Kawakami for things THEY want changed. He’s done, and continues to do a great job keeping us COVID free. IF there was a reliable ‘rapid test’ on the market we’d already have it, as would most Airports worldwide. NOBODY is happy about this pandemic, and millions around the world are struggling. The movie industry can take a seat, and patiently wait a bit longer too.

  6. Kauai Ken June 7, 2020 9:39 am Reply

    Peter’s comments are on the mark.

    Our mayor is a smart talented man and I agree his early actions were also on the mark, but since then he has not acted to prepare for a timely recovery and hasn’t addressed the growing ill conceived negative attitude towards the island’s visitors.

    To the first point, what is the plan to manage the virus that will ultimately find its way back on Kauai? Do we have the supply of quick test kits in place to test our travelers arriving from outside Kauai, and a staff of trained tracers to contain the risk of spreading? These solutions exist, it’s just a matter of our local government acting to implement them instead of what appears to be just stalling and a futile attempt to hide from the pandemic. The mandatory 14 day self quarantine is not a sustainable plan and has long since outlived its usefulness and has become extremely damaging to the wellbeing of all on Kauai. Mayor, if you have a near term plan and timeline to rescue our economy please share it with us!

    The growing demonization of outsiders is a dangerous intolerant mindset. I’m hearing many questions from my acquaintances from the mainland who see this in reports in the media from Hawaii (and Kauai in particular) about hostility to visitors, so don’t think our potential visitors aren’t seeing this too and changing their future plans to go somewhere else. Instead of rejecting this attitude our mayor with his silence appears to if not encourage it at least to accept this, a disappointing similarity to our divisive president, playing on people’s fears, distrust and resentment of “others”. We need out mayor to be out in front defending our longstanding history of aloha, extended it to all who visit and snuff out this intolerance while we can.

    Lastly let me leave you with this. People think because they aren’t directly working with visitors that they aren’t part of the visitor-based economy and dependent on them. But unless you live off an off island income stream no matter how you earn your income you are also very much dependent on the spending from visitors. Kauai is essentially a consumption economy with very little revenue generated to offset the cost of imported goods (virtually everything, tax money included, aside from coffee and Poi). Think of Kauai’s economy as a camp fire, up until March it was a bonfire, perhaps even burning too brightly, but now all we are doing is stirring the embers from that once mighty fire, only able to toss in the occasional piece of driftwood to keep the fire from completely burning out. The visitors bring the real timber to Kauai to fuel our fire, without them it will get very dark, chilly, and frankly sad here.

    1. Jeff S. June 7, 2020 8:46 pm Reply

      Nicely put!

  7. Kauaidoug June 7, 2020 9:41 am Reply

    Mr Vekinis you make good points except the fact that the rest of the world is not covid free and your system sounds good except for one small detail. The person traveling with Covid19 and doesn’t know because they are presenting NO symptoms shoots one big hole in your idea. Don’t worry, people will come. Hawaii offers and will offer to those seeking safety, security and respite from the trauma drama of their daily lives.
    I think the bigger issue is how we make tourism work for us instead of us working for tourism. If we don’t then Kauai will wind up like Oahu and Maui were before Covid19 and don’t forget Kapaa Crawl!!

  8. manawai June 7, 2020 9:42 am Reply

    “All because the county didn’t get some COVID testing machines to examine visitors, restart the economy and create a guaranteed COVID-19-free zone.”

    Hear, hear!!

  9. Charles L. Chimknee June 7, 2020 6:20 pm Reply

    Aloha Peter,

    The Island, my home and maybe yours, doesn’t need a restart.

    It needs a break.

    A break from all the overtourism that was destroying our way of life

    A break from the money focused growth

    A break from mainlanders and others not acting in the best interest of the a’ina.

    The COVID pandemic has arguably been the best thing to happen to Kauai, and the other islands in decades.

    it has allowed us time to pause, to rethink, and to examine.

    I hope it continues

  10. n o mo June 7, 2020 8:30 pm Reply

    goodbye tourism you won’t be missed

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