Reopening concerns and a call to action

COVID 19 has illustrated that to survive economically we must diversify. Visitor dollars are what we depend on but we need to develop more products and services than room nights and activities and it will take time.

But with unemployment and federal funds dwindling. 80% of Hawai‘i’s work force is anxiously awaiting plane loads of visitors. But they must arrive safely…in a different sort of way.

Our Governor announced that from August 1st all visitors and returning residents must be COVID-19 pre-tested before arriving. Pre-testing is a great start, so are the extensive forms and temperature checks as secondary safeguards.

Unfortunately, another phase which the Governor added will create more problems than solutions. Having a visitor or returning resident choose between pretesting OR a 14-day quarantine is a huge mistake.

The self-quarantine system has been a challenging one. For months those violating quarantine have been easy to spot, in stores, on the beach, at illegal TVRs, on the road and within our community. And although we’ve been instructed to report violations to officers, many have taken it upon themselves to accost visitors and even some unsuspecting residents as their overall status…because quarantine violations are more often than not.

Hawai‘i is about to promote itself as a ‘safe place to visit’ and instead of a few thousand visitors weekly, tens of thousands will be arriving daily from a country that leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths. The 18-49 year old demographic is one less apt to follow CDC guidelines and are responsible for the latest surge in cases on the mainland. They are also attracted to Hawai‘i and when we reopen they will not feel the need to be tested and they will not pay attention to self-quarantine, let alone the proper use of masks or social distancing. They feel impervious to COVID-19 and the number of record setting cases reflect such attitudes. That is one good reason to make pre-testing mandatory.

Another reason is overseeing thousands instead of hundreds of people in quarantine. It is not feasible unless each island has a controlled quarantine facility where costs are passed onto the visitor. A controlled facility works well with residents returning to their own country, but not with a visitor spending thousands of dollars for a vacation in Hawai‘i. So we will ask them to give us their word or text or phone call or perhaps a visit that they are quarantining themselves for 14 days.

If we cannot quarantine hundreds in this manner how can we quarantine thousands?

Yet the Governor is suggesting we expand the quarantine program and burden each county to an extend that it would most certainly lead to more cases and risk far too many lives.

The third reason is one that will last longer than the threat of the virus. Beginning August First, local residents will wonder whether any visitor they see in a rentacar at a restaurant or market or Luau has been tested or breaking quarantine. Some will take it upon themselves to see paperwork…others may be less civil and most will regard the visitor as a source of a quick dollar to be left at the door…Where’s the Aloha?

IF pre-testing was the only option the threat of a broken quarantine would be non- existent. It will do away with costs, fears and a lasting image that is contrary to what Hawai‘i is known for.

Is Hawai‘i a haven of beauty and revitalizations or where animosities runs wild.

Where’s the Aloha????

The visitor industry is needed more than ever, as well as diversification to secure our future. We also need to secure our safety. Make pre-testing Mandatory by contacting your Mayor, County Council, State Representatives, Governor and Federal Representatives and unite them for everyone’s sake. Many will be listening not just because of your vote, but because more is at stake…you should have a say in it!

•••

Andy Melemed is a resident of Wailua Homesteads.

11 Comments
  1. Kauaidoug June 26, 2020 7:35 am Reply

    You are right on Andy. We must protect ourselves before we can extend Aloha to the world and offer a Refuge of sorts. Just like in the airplane when the oxygen masks come down one puts your own mask on before you help any fellow passenger. We must do the same and have a protocol we can all live with and trust. I toured people in my car so how am I going to assure my safety as well as my guests without a reliable system. It is a quandry and frankly the states , especially Ige, does not give me much confidence.


  2. Jay June 26, 2020 8:14 am Reply

    You are right that quarantine will be unenforceable at those numbers.

    The only challenge is that by federal law you cannot prevent people from traveling freely between states. So people can arrive and there is absolutely nothing to do about that.

    However, another option is to also offer rapid testing in the airport, it may not catch all cases, but it will catch the majority. There are epidemiological formulas that can determine the risk of a single positive person in a society, and based on such formulas, it is not likely to pose a major risk if some cases slip through.


  3. douglas henry June 26, 2020 9:54 am Reply

    We should only allow visitor to come here if they are tested. No exceptions.


  4. Dan Zimmerman June 26, 2020 11:49 am Reply

    As a tourist/ snowbird, I support mandatory testing. Just please make the requirements attainable


  5. WAVE June 26, 2020 3:18 pm Reply

    I HAVE AAN FDA APPROVED RAPID TEST WITH RESULTS IN 10 MINUTES IN MY HAND HERE ON KAUAI BUT THE KAUAI HEATH DEPARTMENT IS DRAGGING ITS FEET !!!! TELL THEM YOU WANT THIS TEST TO BE MADE AVAILABLE I HAVE IT IN MY HAND RIGHT NOW IT IS REAL AND IT IS ACCURATE !!


  6. AnotheR side of the coin June 27, 2020 2:40 am Reply

    Why are we so afraid of the flu when we’ve all had it in our lifetimes, we’ll if you are over a certain age.

    Flu has been around since viruses began to infect the human race about when human history began.

    If people understood the immune system FEAR of the flu would be negligible.

    Statistics say 99% of those getting this flu have No Symptoms, Mild Symptoms, or need only bed rest.

    People fear the unknown, the Virus, they don’t know about virus, they don’t understand virus, they fear virus.

    Oddly these same people don’t FEAR the VACCINE, they don’t know about vaccines, they don’t understand vaccines, Yet they DONT FEAR vaccines, in spite of the fact many people take the vaccine and still get the flu and some die,

    Why is that? Because when you take the vaccine, you get some immunity to the vaccine, but not immunity against the actual Flu.

    It amazing how people do not fear the VACCINE when it is in fact a disease being injected into their bodies. Some vaccinated people get the flu immediately after taking the flu shot or vaccine. Some die.

    Getting the actual flu gives you some or complete immunity to the virus/flu protecting you from the virus / flu next time it comes around.

    Getting the flu with ZERO to mild symptoms to needing only bed rest vs. collapse of our local, state, and national economy is Fear Gone Wild.

    The flu is reversible, you get well by the body’s immune system. Economic collapse has no remedy, allowing a drastic ECONOMIC COLLAPSE AND DEPRESSION IS AVOIDABLE, opening our economy is PREVENTION.

    Will people die with the flu, they always do, they are usually under medical care and have Pre-existing Conditions called Chronic Degenerative Diseases or End of Life Diseases, along wit their End of Life Disease Prescription Drugs.

    Health Care is Personal, done daily by yourself and for yourself.

    Sick Care you leave up to others, who have shown for too many that they who manage Sick or Dise Care jare just not up to the Task, resulting in fatal outcomes.

    People with chronic degenerative disease are unaware of how to take care of their own health. Thus they need Health Education. Oddly sick and disease care is readily available, but Health Education and sickness prevention are difficult to find.


    1. Simon June 28, 2020 10:35 pm Reply

      You’re right about the ‘flu. Pity were talking about Covid-19. Ten times more deadly and a disease which thankfully most of us have not had or been exposed to. I have chronic conditions. I know how to take of them thank-you. The best way is to follow the advice of medical professionals. Wear a mask. Socially distance. Be aware. Stop Covid-19


  7. chris June 27, 2020 8:07 am Reply

    August 1 is too soon. we need to tell our governor and mayor to stop this non sense. Other states are mandating new quarantine requirements since cases are on the increase. I am searching for a venue to voice our concerns but find none on line so far. Stop the August 1 lifting of quarantine. it is not worth it. We will end up more infected than ever on Kauai.


  8. WOH June 27, 2020 2:22 pm Reply

    My wife and I have been going to Kauai since 1988. We love the island and the people we have met. We have a trip planned for the late fall and are hoping we will be able to make it. We cannot afford to go to the island and be quarantined. We will comply with governor’s order for a pre-test but we are concerned about getting a reliable rapid test and the consequences of a positive or false positive only 72 hours prior to our flight. We need to work out if we can get full refunds for air fare and lodging in the event that we test positive at the last minute. We also need to know what evidence of a negative test will be accepted. The last thing we wish to do is contribute to ill health on the island. At the same time we want to see the economy everywhere start up again. At some point perhaps fear will be balanced with economic reality and an acceptable way forward will be found before more lives are destroyed by the cure. Whatever the residents of Kauai decide is best for them I fully understand and support. Mahalo for the great memories.


  9. Ailani R June 27, 2020 8:09 pm Reply

    It’s my understanding that even the 72 hr test is not foolproof. I personally know people who have lost family members and who have had their teen son hospitalized with recurring health issues because of the novel coronavirus on the mainland . You do not know how your body will respond no matter your age or health. We must protect Kauai at all costs. Locals support each other, and inter island travelers should be welcomed. I think the quarantine is good if people are diligent


  10. Elizabeth June 27, 2020 10:33 pm Reply

    I agree with Chris.
    It is way way Beyond too soon to be lifting quarantine by August 1st.
    We are on an island and we are fragile we cannot sustain the virus it is way too dangerous.
    this is one of several coronavirus’. We do not know that much about it yet and unlike the flu it does much more than the average flu does to our system.
    Even a mandatory negative covid-19 is not enough because the moment you step and to the airport and on a plane incubation could be happening so negative test is just a little bit of coverage it’s Russian roulet on everybody’s lives in my opinion.
    It’s Reckless.


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