In response to the front page TGI article “Group wants double testing”, by Allan Parachini on July 2, 2020, we agree with the Kauai COVID Committee of Doctors and community leaders. Basically, the group says that it is vitally important that a second COVID-19 test should be required of all visitors to Kauai until the virus is no longer deemed a potentially deadly threat to the people. Dr. Lee Evslin, of the Kauai COVID group, said “What we (would be) advertising is we are doing the best in the country to create a COVID-free vacation spot. That will make this unique.”
The pandemic is raging again and we are in a very vulnerable age group, but our concern is for all ages and all the People of Kauai and Hawaii, and for all visitors. With all due respect to Gov. Ige and Lt. Gov. Green’s plan to begin on August 1, and to require a single test within 72 hours of arrival in Hawaii, or undergo a 14 day quarantine, it’s just not good enough! According to Lt. Gov. Green, the plan is likely to permit 10 to 15 positive arriving cases per day to escape detection. Someone who tested negative no more than 72 hours before arriving in Hawaii could catch the virus in a restaurant, a public restroom, a taxi, an airport or anywhere else before boarding an airplane, or perhaps even on the flight itself! Without a second test after arrival, with a 5 or 6 day quarantine, it sounds like we would be inviting disaster to our shores.
According to an article in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, by Allison Schaefers, July 5, 2020, entitled “Lack of clear vision for pre-arrival testing program is hindering Hawaii’s tourism reopening”, “The clock is already ticking on the 30 day countdown to reopen Hawaii to visitors…” and “The absence of critical details so late in the game has left some Hawaii residents crying foul regardless of whether they want Hawaii tourism to run onto the field or remain sidelined. It’s also confusing for would-be travelers to Hawaii who can’t decide if the entry gates are open.” We believe we don’t have to sideline all tourism. We are for limited tourism with the added Public Health safety measure of the Kauai COVID group’s proposal of double testing. It’s an extremely difficult balance between the Public Health and economic vitality, but we must be on the side of common sense precautions to protect our health and to avoid another catastrophic economic downturn.
In the July 5, 2020, Advertiser article, two Hawaii State Reps. Bob McDermott and Gene Ward said in fact that “as far as they can tell, the only county in the state with a plan to restart tourism seems to be Kauai, where a hui made up of physicians and other experts has created an alternate plan.” In the same article, former Kauai County Council Chairman Mel Rapozo said he “supports the Kauai COVID group recommendations that require visitors take a pre-arrival test and another test six-days apart before being allowed out of a shorter quarantine. The priority should be on the health and safety of residents rather than the convenience of tourists, especially when the country is blowing up with cases right now.”
We hope Gov. Ige and his team will choose to adopt the Kauai COVID Committee plan to restart tourism in Hawaii, or at least to let Kauai decide for itself how to proceed in these dangerous and rapidly changing times.
Fred and Marj Dente are residents of Kapaa.