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