Ige should approve Kawakami’s proposals

Gov. David Ige may be on the cusp of making one of the worst political and public health mistakes of his entire term in office, with officials on Kaua‘i concerned the Governor has still failed to act on Mayor Derek Kawakami’s latest proposals to control COVID-19 on our island.

As of late Wednesday, the Governor has not disclosed whether he will approve two proposals Kawakami sent him on Monday.

One proposal reintroduced a plan the Mayor sent Ige several weeks ago. It would require that people traveling to Kaua‘i who are enrolled in the state’s Safe Travel program — that’s the one that requires a negative COVID test in order to skip an otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine — submit to a brief, three-day quarantine followed by a second COVID test.

The second Kawakami proposal would correct an insane loophole that Ige left in the Safe Travel program. As mandated by the governor, people traveling here who have taken the test but don’t yet have results can still board the plane, fly to Kaua‘i and move freely about the island. This is simply crazy.

The Mayor’s proposal would require such people to enter into a 14-day quarantine from which they could be released if and when their test results are known and negative.

From county sources, I learned that Ige called Kawakami on Wednesday to talk.

In the conversation, Ige said he was actively considering the second of Kawakami’s two proposals. The governor would not commit to it, however, until he can work out how to communicate to tourists the fact that they would be barred from flights until their test results could be uploaded into the Safe Travel database.

It’s a fair concern since it could directly affect people who’d booked trips having been assured they could fly out here without having their test results known.

But Ige was apparently less willing to commit to the first — and more significant — proposal. Specifically, he raised concerns about requiring visitors to take and pay for a second test after they arrive and requiring even the brief quarantine.

That’s where Ige’s logic explodes. In a phone conversation Wednesday afternoon, Kawakami described conversations he’s had with visitors over the last few days in which they have told him they chose Kaua‘i because there are great airfare deals right now and they see our island as safe.

I’ve had conversations similar to those the mayor has had. You probably have, too.

If you lived in one of the dozens of states where COVID is an impending healthcare disaster, Kaua‘i’s appeal would be undeniable.

Kawakami told Ige — reasonably — that tourists should be willing to cover the cost of the second test as a reasonable condition to coming here, realizing that visitors willingly pay resort fees and many other kinds of charges. The cost of a COVID test should not discourage them if safety and being in natural beauty are their priorities.

“Based on today’s conversation,” Kawakami told me, “I am hopeful that the Governor is at least more clear as to our intent. It is a fair cost that travelers should have to pay for. Nobody can look at the enormous case counts on the mainland and say we do not need more restrictions.”

Then he added a point that, I think, will resonate widely on the island: “I definitely say that our people are worth the extra cost. One of the drawing points of Kaua‘i is the beauty and I’m wondering why we’re willing to take ourselves so cheap. The second test will be worth the cost these visitors will have to pay.

“Whether they choose to come to Kaua‘i, that’s a decision they will have to make.”

Let’s review where Kaua‘i is. Our case count is still the lowest of any county in Hawai‘i. Our ICU beds are not yet heavily occupied.

But the island’s seven-day average of newly reported cases is trending up, while the other three major counties are trending down. Granted, in Kaua‘i’s case, the numbers are still minuscule compared to places on the mainland where COVID is raging.

Our seven-day rolling average is 2.2 new cases per day. As of Wednesday, we’ve had a total of 85 cases, with one case “probable.” We’ve had no deaths. Only one patient is currently hospitalized, according to county figures.

But starting just after the trans-Pacific travel ban was lifted on Oct. 15, our counts have been going up. Granted, local people are still the most infected group, but COVID is starting to tighten its grip on Kaua‘i, with cases reported within the last couple of weeks in the Wainiha area and a new case just within the last few days involving a student at Kilauea School.

We can’t give more ground to this pandemic. Ige should act positively — and quickly — to approve both of Kawakami’s proposals.

•••

Allan Parachini is a Kilauea resident, furniture-maker, journalist and retired public-relations executive who writes periodically for The Garden Island.

21 Comments
  1. Bway November 19, 2020 1:05 am Reply

    Good article. Vermont just enacted a 14 day quarantine or 7 day quarantine with negative test at end so the argument that travelers will not come is really immaterial to the reality. Ski season is just starting up and that’s Vermont’s huge tourism industry. Some states take our welfare more seriously than others.


  2. Anna Lyticalmind November 19, 2020 2:23 am Reply

    Fear continues to rule the day. For most people who get it, Covid is minor. We can’t simultaneously as a planet be overpopulated and shut everything down to protect people who haven’t prioritized their health for decades.
    Also, currently, if you arrive without your result, you’re not free to roam – you have to quarantine until you get and load the result into safe travels.
    Get your facts straight, and how about some editing by the paper to correct it.
    Follow science, not fear.


    1. Jamie Rainbow November 19, 2020 7:23 pm Reply

      I am not traveling until things settle down. I don’t know the numbers, but I would guess around 30-40 % of people who travel are hi risk (age) If Hawaii wants to be Florida, I don’t see it working real well. I am not a gambler as are most people in a risk category.


  3. nobody November 19, 2020 6:22 am Reply

    Travellers will pay for the test, no doubt. They will be more than happy to pay if it means they worry less about their families being infected while visiting.

    We have to let tourism in or the locals can just turn the island’s economy over to our new wealthy residents. It’s our choice.


  4. DCH November 19, 2020 6:27 am Reply

    Am I missing something? Or, are you? What about the loophole where people with negative results get on a plane with people with no results (yet), and/or people who have opted NOT to take the test and could be either negative or positive (who knows?). And now they all sit on a flight with this mixed bag of folks, potentially infecting each other? How has that not been considered? So, Negative Nate was all cleared in Nashville, but sat next to Didn’t Know She’s Positive Polly for from Philadelphia, and now Nate shows up, cruises around island, BOOM, three days later, tests positive. Now you gotta contact trace that? Loopholes galore.


    1. Michael November 22, 2020 4:45 am Reply

      Nope, you’re not missing a thing. Airlines should deny boarding to anyone who has 1) a positive COVID test or 2) has results pending.


  5. Reality Bites November 19, 2020 8:33 am Reply

    Ah, sorry, you are incorrect about landing without results. You cannot “move freely about the island”.

    You arrive on Kauai without result, and your airport terminal stay increases an hour off the plane with paperwork, National Guard “intimidating” you with “you will go to jail, you will be fined, we will check on you”. You go in to quarantine until you receive the results, upload the results to “safe travels” website, THEN call endlessly to get your name off the “Hit list”.

    All this for a “vIrus” with a 99.7% survival rate. Yes, let’s shut everything down and bankrupt the state. Your children and grandchildren will be paying for your free checks you are enjoying right now. SMH.


  6. Paulo November 19, 2020 9:01 am Reply

    We have gone from zero covid cases for weeks at a time to numbers of active cases in the teens. The Governor must approve our Mayor’s request that no one board a plane to our state without having a negative test taken within 72 hours AND then a 3 day quarantine prior to a 2nd test. I don’t care who pays for it but it would seem to be the travelers responsibility. Otherwise if Gov Ige disagrees Kauai should opt out.


    1. Jamie Rainbow November 19, 2020 7:25 pm Reply

      Stay home


  7. Doug November 19, 2020 9:19 am Reply

    Excellent article. Mayor Kawakami’s position is well thought out and makes sense, people will pay a little more to be safe and should pay a little more to visit. If they can pay resort and parking fees, they can pay for an additional test. If this island closes down again it is squarely on Ige’s shoulders.


  8. kauaidoug November 19, 2020 9:21 am Reply

    “I definitely say that our people are worth the extra cost. One of the drawing points of Kaua‘i is the beauty and I’m wondering why we’re willing to take ourselves so cheap. The second test will be worth the cost these visitors will have to pay.”

    Why wasn’t this worked out the first time we were going to open the island?Or the second time? I hope 3rd time is the charm. We have sold ourselves way to cheap. We have the most precious commodity, the coin of the realm, paradise and what are we doing, letting the people who have the money for the cheapest flights and “deals”, running a covid program that we KNOW lets infected onto our island? Are the people taking advantage of the pandemic deals and staying 4 or 5 days the kind of people we want to see coming to our shores? Talk to anyone who has had interaction with visitors and their attitudes range from we are so thankful to be here to we saw a deal and thought we could just get away from our own troubled neighborhoods and last but not least travelers who just don’t give damn about what OUR lives might look like AFTER they leave.

    If they come here and get sick they cannot leave. Think about it and our 9 ICU beds!!!!!


  9. John November 19, 2020 11:14 am Reply

    Lame-duck governor who is most likely receiving kickbacks from Big Tourism (hotels and airlines) – why is anyone surprised that he has completely fumbled the Covid response? It’s no accident. Nor do I trust Kawakami either. Both should be investigated.


  10. LTEreader November 19, 2020 11:28 am Reply

    “As mandated by the governor, people traveling here who have taken the test but don’t yet have results can still board the plane, fly to Kaua‘i and move freely about the island. This is simply crazy.”

    While I wholeheartedly agree with Mayor Kawakami’s requests, you need to get your facts correct. When anyone arrives on Kaua’i without test results they must quarantine at a hotel until they’ve received results. They are NOT able to “move freely about the Island.”
    IMO nobody should be allowed to board a plane to Hawai’i without a pre-test, and results. Allowing anyone to opt into the 14 day quarantine is also a recipe for disaster. There’s thousands currently in the State who’ve done this, and not all are adhering to their quarantine.
    Gov. Ige & LG Green both need to get their heads out of the sand, especially in light of what’s happening on the Mainland right now. Our hospitals are simply not in a position to get overwhelmed, and this can happen very easily as long as people keep traveling here.


    1. Jamie Rainbow November 19, 2020 7:29 pm Reply

      Thanks for adding truth from a person that is there.


  11. Mark November 19, 2020 12:56 pm Reply

    A 3 or 4 day quarantine on arrival and second covid test once you arrive to your destination is a common practice for international travel- makes good sense!!!!! And yes Kaua’i residents are worth it!!!!


  12. KauaiFarmMan November 19, 2020 3:34 pm Reply

    They won’t stop until we are all on welfare. Like life wasn’t hard enough here on Kauai to make ends meet. Our Mayor has fast tracked gentrification. What would of taken 20 years will take 5. All of Kauai will be Princeville soon. The only people that will be able to afford living here will be mainlanders with fat bank accounts. Do your research, CDC announced this week that 51,000 recorded Covid deaths were actually Heart Attacks!! Yes you read that right. The numbers are grossly inflated and have caused hysteria. And the system is manipulating everyone. I hope you are all having fun living in fear and giving away your freedom for a false threat. This is a sham. As always big bank take little bank. We might as well just rename the island Princeville now. Thanks for fast tracking gentrification by systematically destroying our economy. Locals will get to be at the beach all the time soon because that’s where we’ll all be living. While these dirty politicians and their wealthy donors buy and resell all our homes to the highest mainland bidders. Say good bye to freedom. Say Hello Modern Slavery!
    You all deserve it for being so helpless and scared. The fear of this not so dangerous virus is the only thing here that is SICK.


    1. Jamie Rainbow November 19, 2020 7:32 pm Reply

      Think out of the box, what I tourism dried up, could Kauai make it?


    2. Susan November 19, 2020 11:01 pm Reply

      “Our Mayor has fast tracked gentrification. All of Kauai will be Princeville soon. The only people that will be able to afford living here will be mainlanders with fat bank accounts.”

      @KauaiFarmMan speaks truth. Kauai locals need to vote Corrupt Kawakami OUT of office next election for selling US out.


  13. Mounque Barazone November 19, 2020 4:07 pm Reply

    For Kauai’s economy to recover and keep the residents safe what makes more sense, and no has spoken of it, Is to require two tests with a negative result before people travel. Possibly 7 to 10 days and then 3 days and results before boarding. People are not going to plan a 7 day trip of their lifetime and spend half in a room and prohibits them from a time share or TVR. They cannot go out and benefit the economy and they will simply go elsewhere. The idea is to make sure they are safe. If they go the Covid virus as has shown can go negative to positive with the 3 days and 3-4 days after then that can be much better with a controlled with the same time frame or even a little longer before they arrive. It cam take 14 days for symptoms. A test at 7 – 10 days before travel and another at 3 days does much more to insure that much fewer could go negative to positive. They are caught before they travel. It is still 2 tests and the cost is the same. That will secure a much safer traveler, cut back significantly on a negative going positive on the island, allow for the traveler to enjoy and benefit the economy for their full 7 days vacation. One additional element needs for the government to require airlines to change a flight by a day or two if results are not back in time. No one boards without the first and second test result in hand and uploaded. The idea of testing in the first place is to assure residents of the maximum protection, second to assure a maximum aloha welcome and experience to visitors and give them the opportunity to spend the maximum to benefit the economy.


  14. LTEreader November 20, 2020 10:11 am Reply

    KauaiFarmMan: “Do your research, CDC announced this week that 51,000 recorded Covid deaths were actually Heart Attacks!!”

    That depends on your news source. YouTube? Twitter? One America News Network? Or perhaps you garnered this gem from a National Inquirer rag mag while waiting in a grocery store line up? Before you continue sharing fake news why don’t you research Bradykinin Hypothesis, and Cytokine Storm Syndrome so that you might better understand how COVID-19 affects the bodies organs.

    FACT CHECK: “Does Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reveal that COVID-19 death totals have been exaggerated by hospitals counting heart attacks as COVID deaths? No, that’s not true. Hospitals don’t fill out death certificates, doctors and/or medical examiners do. The claim relies on misinterpretation of death certificates. Death certificates record the sequence of events by which humans succumb to a disease: underlying cause of death is what leads to the crisis that kills. So a lethal heart attack brought on by COVID-19 is correctly counted as a COVID-19 death in the CDC tally.”


  15. LINDA SCIARONI November 22, 2020 9:47 am Reply

    Covid-19 is a Cardio Vascular Disease. If the person does not get the dramatic lung disease we hear so much about, what they get is damage to their small and large blood vessels. Heart Attacks are the expected cause of death for a cardiovascular disease as are strokes, erectile disfunction, kidney failure, and dementia. So yeah you may be a survivor, but your quality of life and your length of life will be very different than if you never got it. My sister was very sick for a month. Well for a month. Then she had a stroke. Mask up!!!! Thank you Mayor for advocating for what you need. Resort Towns across the world are facing similar pressures.


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