Letter for Thursday, June 11, 2020

A coronoavirus response

A couple of recent letters from Janet Eisenbach (TGI 5/20 and 6/06) ask several questions that deserve a response. Janet, you asked “Why do we have to stay at home?” Actually, we do not have to stay at home now nor did we ever have to stay at home, except with certain restrictions on our travel around the island in the early stages of the pandemic response. So, this is a meaningless question. Likewise, “Why do we need to wash our hands frequently and sterilize our homes?” No one has to do either of these things, they are merely suggestions, kind of like all those times my dentists told me I should floss regularly. After enduring a few gnarly gum-surgeries in recent years, I wish I had listened.

How about having to wear masks? You only need to do that when you enter local businesses or public buildings, and if you doubt their efficacy, look to countries such as Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea whose early and widespread use of masks appears to have contributed greatly to their success in mitigating the spread of the virus. Hey, I don’t really enjoy wearing them, but I don’t really enjoy wearing pants either. I wear pants mainly to keep from being arrested, and for my concern for the mental health of both my family and the greater community. Masks? No big deal, plus they’re probably a temporary thing, whereas I’ll have to wear pants for the rest of my life. Is this government control? Technically yes, but so are speed limits and signs that say “No Jumping From Bridge” and “Don’t Drink and Drive”. These things, and masks, are there for everyone’s health and safety.

As for our Governor and our Mayor, you said it yourself, unintentionally, in the first sentence of your last letter. “We have no active cases”. This is not by pure luck, or because we live in the most magical place on earth (well, we do, but for other reasons). It is largely because of Ige’s and Kawakami’s (and others) swift and decisive actions that the state of Hawaii will likely go down in history as one of the least affected states in America. Mahalo nui to these guys and all the other elected officials and medical experts and health workers who stayed calm and did what they felt was best for all of us, all in the face of a frightening and relatively unprecedented (though predictable) health crisis. Most remarkably, this collective response was made without the benefit of any real “playbook” to guide them, and in spite of a pathetic lack of coherent leadership from the House of Orange (aka the White House).

Janet, here’s some friendly advice: Get out of your house! It’s totally legal and safe if you just follow a few common sense rules. Go to the beach (Kalihiwai and Anini are in your neighborhood and are just lovely this time of year), take a walk, go for a swim, ride a bike, take a hike, soak up some rays, cop some breeze. Then go have a meal at a local restaurant, most of them are open and they NEED your business, plus you’re allowed to remove your mask when actually putting food in your mouth.

Speaking of business, I know that you own a vacation rental and I don’t make light of the financial stresses that you and so many others are experiencing. Each of us has our own story and our own unique challenges to surviving this huge hit.

For someone like you, whose income may be dependent on a quick return to a robust tourism-based economy, relocation may be a viable option. If you own property on Kauai it’s probably worth way more than similar properties in some other places. Las Vegas for example: not as pretty as Kauai, but you could buy 2 or 3 properties there for every one you sell here, you could start up a business, and the restaurants and casinos are now fully open and packed with people who, amazingly, are not required to wear masks or social distance. As long as you’re cool with a certain (hopefully small) percentage of your new-found friends and neighbors over there becoming sick and dying horrific, lonely, and needless deaths, it could be a good move.

Andy Johnston, Kalaheo

  1. susie wood June 11, 2020 5:07 am Reply

    Andy, I think I love you! Thank you for your wonderful letter this morning. I am so proud of Kauai for the quick and successful response to the danger of this deadly virus.
    Blessings to all my island friends.

    1. Ed June 12, 2020 2:39 am Reply

      “danger of this deadly virus”…..you are too much. You must be a Trust Fund baby, or a full-time receiver of endless Government handouts. Only a nonworking individual would support the destruction of the economy over this liberal hoax. See you at COVID-20…….our economy will not recover keeping the young and healthy at home watching NETFLIX 24 hours a day. SMH.

      1. Sorry Ed June 12, 2020 9:53 am Reply

        Tell us, which of your friends and loved ones are you willing to sacrifice for a little more money?

  2. kauaiboy June 11, 2020 5:56 am Reply

    It appears easy for wealthy folks like you, Mr, Johnston, to say to Ms. Eisenbach, that she should go have a meal at a local restaurant. She, like many local residents, may not be able to afford that luxury. When the “funny money’ dries up soon, more residents will be in the same boat, unable to afford the niceties of life.

    And “you’re allowed to remove your mask when actually putting food in your mouth”? Why must we wear masks at all when there are no active cases here on Kauai?

    Your suggestion that Ms. Eisenbach should consider relocation, is a huge slap in the face to anyone and everyone who has lived on Kauai for any length of time and who loves living here as much as you obviously do.

    More than half of Kauai’s population relies on income which is dependent on a quick return to a robust tourism-based economy, whether they all realize it or not.

    So get off your high horse and keep your pants on, but take your mask off and recognize that the smiles of those people who do the same are the same people who you want to relegate to a life of financial hardship or the need to relocate off island.

    1. RevW June 11, 2020 11:09 pm Reply

      Is the comment “It appears easy for wealthy folks like you, Mr. Johnston, to say to Ms. Eisenbach, that she should go have a meal at a local restaurant. She, like many local residents, may not be able to afford that luxury” based on an assumption that anyone suggesting having a meal at a restaurant MUST be wealthy? And everybody else on Kauai is dirt poor and never eats anywhere but at home? None of the places I’ve had a meal “out” on Kauai, the Big Island or Oahu have been unaffordable except for wealthy folks. I mean, come on, local moms with shopping bags and a couple of kids in tow, and college students, and people picking up plate lunch while their car’s being worked on can’t ALL be wealthy. I’m not. Hawai’i is well known to be an expensive place to live, with a somewhat fragile & unstable economy. Someone choosing to live in Hawai’i has already accepted that. And relying on income from rentals of any kind is never as dependable as – for example – being a plumber in a family owned plumbing company.

      Suggesting relocation is not a slap in the face when it’s a response to someone complaining about the financial difficulty of living where they are, AND objecting to participating in novel expectations of people, that are intended to to keep that place livable during a crisis especially when the objections are in part about things that aren’t quite reality.

      COVID-19 is demanding that all of us cooperate, and live with changes that we don’t like. Pushing back against the hopefully temporary”new rules” that have been put in place by people who are better informed than most of us with “Why should I / we?” doesn’t contribute anything positive to getting to the point where we can sort out what the ‘new normal’ is going to be. Besides which, all those “whys” have already been answered.

  3. Kurt Last June 11, 2020 6:24 am Reply

    Thanks for a great letter! You should consider writing an opinion column here.

    The mayor and governor helped shield us from Trump’s deliberate & prideful ignorance and lying that turned a health crisis on the mainland into a full blown catastrophe. Estimates are now that deaths on the mainland will reach 200,000 by the end of the summer, and the cowardly voice inside the white house bunker has gone silent about it. It’s hard to imagine the level of incompetence that brought us here. Trump rallies – all unmasked, of course – will be starting up again in tightly packed, closed venues in states with a spiking second wave of disease. The need to feed the president’s malignant narcissism far outweighs any thought of disease prevention, of course.

    The mayor had a lot to do with keeping our healthcare workers, and the rest of us, alive and well. He really deserves thanks.

    1. Ed June 12, 2020 2:32 am Reply

      You should really up your medication. I am now worried about the USA.

      1. C'mon Ed... June 12, 2020 9:55 am Reply

        That’s a direct attack with nothing adding to the discussion. Maybe it’s time to put down the bottle and go home.

  4. Mary Walsh June 11, 2020 6:32 am Reply

    Andy Johnson….right on target…you could not have said it any better. Enjoyed your commentary.

    Mary Duarte Walsh

  5. Craig Millett June 11, 2020 6:42 am Reply

    Dear Andy Johnston,

    Thank you for this post you said everything I would have and more.

  6. Malia June 11, 2020 7:27 am Reply

    Your statement that “Hawaii will likely go down in history as one of the least affected states in America” will likely be the case, BUT it will also very likely be that Hawaii will go DOWN in history as the the worst hit economically by these decisions. The statistics in April show Hawaii has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/laus.t02.htm) and likely we are #1 now in June (the statistics aren’t even out for May yet so we don’t know yet). Other states that were high, like Nevada, are coming back, therefore their unemployment will go down and the June statistics should show that.

    As of now there is no end in sight to this economic devastation in Hawaii and it’s effects which are more to come (ie. more homelessness, more suicides, domestic abuse, etc etc). And then the state of Hawaii likely won’t have the financial resources to help with the issues since there is less GE tax revenue from closed businesses and less income from businesses that have somehow survived.

    My guess is that you Andy are financially secure and aren’t actually trying to make an income on this island. Or maybe you just have a large savings and aren’t living paycheck to paycheck as many of the working people on Kauai do. For everyone who needs to actually make a living here in Hawaii, they are likely wondering how they are going to pay their bills in the near future. For those getting unemployment, the extra $600 per week that the federal gov’t is kicking in is going to dry out at the end of July. Then what? Since tourism will still be at a standstill here, with thanks to out wonderful leaders, this is a huge problem down the pipeline. I think we all understand that whether or not someone actually works in the tourism industry, it is a financial trickle down effect. We all really on it. As of now we don’t know when the tourism money will start coming, but we do know when the unemployment monies will massively decrease. What then? What do our wonderful leaders have planned?

    1. What price? June 12, 2020 5:11 am Reply

      Tell us, how many deaths from incoming infections do you think is worth how many jobs in tourism sooner than later?

      1. Monti June 12, 2020 2:09 pm Reply

        About as many as your typical flu(If you are willing to look at the unfudged numbers)

        1. If only June 15, 2020 4:54 pm Reply

          Unfudged numbers? What sort of paranoia causes you to think this? We know over a hundred thousand people have already died, just in the USA, from this. That’s significantly more than the normal flu – and during a time when the country is going to great lengths to avoid it.

          Anyone peddling such misinformation SHOULD be ashamed, and frankly should never be approved for publishing.

  7. Keath P. Hacker June 11, 2020 7:57 am Reply

    Finally, someone with a brain responded to poor Janet Eisenbach comments! Right on Andy! Might be time to go the U.S.A.to live Janet(and followers). Its way bettah there!

    1. Loladog June 12, 2020 4:17 pm Reply


      Can I help you to count to 50? OK, let’s start with you looking at one of your hands. How many fingers can you count on one hand? Did you get to five? If so, then do it again nine more times. Then add them all up.

      If not, then … yeah you do not live in the U.S.A.


  8. Virginia Hudson June 11, 2020 8:16 am Reply

    Well said Andy!

  9. Candy mccaslin June 11, 2020 8:23 am Reply

    Mahalo Andy for your comprehensive, factual, instructive and calm response.

  10. Everythingisawesome June 11, 2020 8:25 am Reply

    Me: Alexa, was Kauai recently under a “stay-at-home” order?
    Alexa: A nightly curfew was ordered by Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami on March 20th, 2020, requiring residents to stay in their primary residences from 9pm to 5am daily with few exceptions. A stay-at-home order, issued by Governor David Ige for the state of Hawaii, went into effect on Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 at 12:01 am. The stay-at-home order limited all travel about the islands to only essential business and on Kauai was enforced using the Hawaii National Guard. Non-compliance would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000, or up to one year in jail, or both.

    Me: Alexa, should I floss regularly?
    Alexa: Flossing is a dance move popularized by the popular video game Fortni…
    Me: Alexa, stop! Alexa, should I floss MY TEETH regularly?
    Alexa: An Associated Press article dated August 3, 2016 states, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has removed flossing as a recommended practice after questions arose about its helpfulness. However, two leading professional groups cited other studies as proof of their claims that flossing prevents buildup of gunk known as plaque, early gum inflammation called gingivitis and tooth decay.
    Me: I’m still gonna floss. Probably.

    Me: Alexa, will wearing a mask mitigate the spread of a coronavirus?
    Alexa: Recently, there has been conflicting and inconclusive scientific evidence on the efficacy of masks in preventing the spread of a coronavirus. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises, “Your cloth face covering MAY protect them. Their cloth face covering MAY protect you.” Many vectors exist for virus transmission from human to human . A cloth face mask may slow the spread of a coronavirus but past studies have shown no difference in overall transmission rates of influenza virus between masked and unmasked groups.
    Me: Alexa, is that a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ on the masks?
    Alexa: The consensus this week among experts and scientists is, ‘Maybe’.

    Me: Alexa, why do humans wear pants?
    Alexa: Contrary to a recent popular internet meme, wearing pants is not an effective means of protecting other human beings from coming into contact with your urine. The flush toilet was invented in 1775 by English inventor Alexander Cumming.

    Me: Alexa, what is “friendly advice”?
    Alexa: Here’s some friendly advice, upgrade your browser to ‘Silk’ today. It’s free and easy!
    Me: Grrrrrr. Alexa! What does someone mean when they say “friendly advice” in the comments section of the op-ed page of a newspaper?
    Alexa: While it is impossible to know the actual intent of the writer, “friendly advice” is often a misnomer. It is neither ‘friendly’ nor ‘advice’. Prefacing a statement with the phrase “friendly advice” is often a way to get a patronizing or insulting suggestion to readers past the moderator.

    Me: Alexa, what does “relocation may be a viable option” mean?
    Alexa: Often used as a veiled command to tell someone where to go. This also sounds like a way to get a patronizing or insulting suggestion to readers past the moderator.

    Me: Alexa, does contracting COVID-19 result in “becoming sick and dying horrific, lonely, and needless deaths”?
    Alexa: An article published in The Garden Island newspaper dated June 11th, 2020 states: “For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms…The vast majority of people recover.”

    1. Rebecca June 11, 2020 8:21 pm Reply

      Your comments always make me smile.

  11. Kauaidoug June 11, 2020 9:33 am Reply

    Well said, Mr Johnston. And a house from here could convert into a nice 3 or 4 rental unit in Vegas. And year round air conditioning too!

  12. Kauaidoug June 11, 2020 9:35 am Reply

    Could convert. No editing function and my phat fingers

  13. douglas henry June 11, 2020 10:17 am Reply

    Thank you Andy Johnston for your very common sense letter.

  14. Paulo June 11, 2020 10:33 am Reply

    Andy Johnston covered all the points many of have been thinking. Well done!

  15. LTEreader June 11, 2020 11:31 am Reply

    Nail on head = excellent letter Andy!

    You can add Honolulu Star Advertiser May 4/2020 to the list. I especially like this: “I would get on a plane and fly away — to Sweden! — if it was legal to travel, but I am trapped in a Twilight Zone episode.”

    Great idea, however they just extended their travel ban as they’re experiencing their own Twilight Zone. “Sweden has adopted fewer restrictions than its neighbors and by June 10, Sweden’s COVID-19 deaths were four times the number in the other Nordic countries combined.”

  16. William Hackett June 11, 2020 1:47 pm Reply

    Thank you, Andy, for a very thoughtful response. I am with you 100%.

  17. Jake June 11, 2020 2:34 pm Reply

    Andy, ah, Ige and our Mayor didn’t really do anything, except bankrupt some businesses, and create a 14 day quarantine for a virus with a 99.5% survival rate.

    When you remove the visitors, with a 14 day quarantine, then it is just us here on the island. We don’t do anything here in Hawaii except entertain the tourist. With the tourists gone, some 4 months now, we are creating a budget deficit, which we probably will be passing on to our children and grandchildren.

    You had me until your last paragraph. You could say that to anyone living here complaining about how expensive it is on the island……..”just move”.

    1. Stat June 12, 2020 5:28 am Reply

      According to the Worldometers website, in the USA there have been or are ongoing some 2,094,368 cases of Covid-19 as of this writing. Of those, a total of 933,475 have run their course resulting in either recovery (817,337) or death (116,138).

      That brings the death rate in the USA to around 12.44%.

      That’s not anything like the 0.5% you claim, and you should be ashamed for willfully endangering people with false information.

  18. Brian June 11, 2020 5:13 pm Reply

    What an insulting and self center response is the letter from Andy Johnson. An attitude that seems to prevail toward those of us who have visited for many years. Enjoyed the Island and made friends. Now however it seems like so many want to kick the tourist in the teeth. Well, we listen. We will not bother you any more. We will no longer rent places at for our vacation. We will no longer trouble you buying things in the stores on Kauai. We will watch you fail and lose the small business that you need so much. We will stop paying your ridiculous taxes when we visit. We will also encourage our elected officials to vote against bailout support to help you.

    Mr. johnson…(small j intended)…you should be ashamed of yourself!

    1. Mr. petty June 12, 2020 5:15 am Reply

      we miss you!!

  19. andy johnston June 11, 2020 8:55 pm Reply

    Howzit Kauaiboy-
    You said “wealthy folks like you”? In reference to me? Obviously you have no idea who I am or what my monthly income is. If I lived in oh, say, Madagascar, I would not be wealthy but I would certainly be living fairly well. Then again, when I moved to Kauai 43 years ago it had nothing to do with money, and (perhaps unfortunately?) it still doesn’t!
    Aloha, Andy Johnston

  20. LTEreader June 12, 2020 10:50 am Reply

    RE: brian (small ‘b’ intended)
    “What an insulting and self center response.” *It’s self CENTERED by the way.
    “Now however it seems like so many want to kick the tourist in the teeth.”

    You do know the COVID-19 prevention proclamations were created here so that we could have a huge percentage of unemployed residents that count on tourism to survive right? And, of course we all LOVED that we couldn’t sit on the beach for months, had to be home by 9 pm, couldn’t dine in restaurants, can’t hold graduations/parties/functions, still have to wear masks in public, are losing businesses, had to shut down vacation rentals because it was too challenging to monitor those disrespectfully ignoring their quarantine, etc. etc. etc. It was all done so that yes > we could “kick the tourist in the teeth” she said VERY sarcastically!
    Obviously you’re not aware that Kaua’i has a whopping 9 ICU beds and 18 ventilators. The entire State only has 3,069 hospital beds (340 of those are ICU beds) and 561 ventilators = doing everything possible to prevent pandemic chaos was essential for us!
    Since you obviously can’t respect what our Mayors & Governor have done, and just how much residents have sacrificed to prevent a major COVID-19 outbreak in Hawai’i then yes, it is better you travel elsewhere. Besides, you’re probably the type of tourist that books the cheapest accommodation, then complains about everything!
    It’ll take awhile, but Hawai’i WILL flourish once again, and we WILL succeed in doing so without negative, “self centered” visitors like you brian (another small ‘b’ intended).
    Aloha & happy travels!

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