Mahalo, Councilmembers Mason Chock and Luke Evslin, for introducing Resolution 2020-57. Mahalo, also, Mayor Derek Kawakami, for standing up and speaking out on behalf of the health of our community.
Resolution 2020-57 urges Gov. David Y. Ige and Lt. Gov. Josh Green to abandon the one-test plan and utilize instead Kawakami’s proposed two-test plan requiring an enforced quarantine until that vital second test indicates a negative result.
The resolution further states that should Ige deny Kawakami’s request for a two-test plan, the County of Kaua‘i should completely opt-out of the state’s single, pre-test requirement, and return to the 14-day quarantine for all arrivals.
One particularly “whereas” lays out the stark reality facing our community as a result of the existing situation:
“Whereas, the single pre-test plan has resulted in a more-rapid rise in cases on Kaua‘i in just the past 30 days than we have had since the pandemic began;”
On the council agenda today, Wednesday, Nov. 25, Kaua‘i residents are encouraged to email email@example.com and let the full council know their thoughts on Resolution 2020-57. The entire resolution can be read at kauai.gov/Council/CouncilMeetings.
I am hopeful and optimistic that the full council will be unanimous in its strong support of this bold statement. I am also hopeful that Kaua‘i’s full legislative delegation, including Kaua‘i Senator and Senate President Ronald Kouchi will publicly support this effort as well.
Another unsung hero providing important leadership on this issue is state Department of Health Kaua‘i District Health Office Officer Dr. Janet M. Berreman.
In a recent Honolulu Star Advertiser column Berreman, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., strongly advocates for a basic 14-day traveler quarantine requirement through the end of the year or until “disease rates are stable or falling here and on the mainland.”
She states unequivocally: “No single-test program, no matter the timing, can control COVID’s spread…Encouraging travel to and from the mainland ensures a steady stream of newly-introduced virus. Infected travelers spread disease to their households, coworkers, traveling companions and hospitality and health-care workers…”
Though the pandemic’s impacts leave none of us untouched, I’m thinking we should pause for a moment and offer a special thanks to Kawakami, Chock, Evslin and Berreman. There are many others on their respective teams, working groups of citizens and experts who also have made important contributions in support, but these individuals at this particular point in time have chosen to do the heavy lifting that is required of leadership.
To be sure, there are others in our community whose economic pain has led them to a different conclusion, and who are desperate for the island to reopen to travelers. Too many are out of work, unable to pay their rents, and standing in line for food. These folks, who look at the situation through a lens of economic desperation, may not agree and, in fact, may be distressed or even outraged at the conclusions reached and content of Resolution 2020-57.
Adding a requirement for a second test is a good middle ground. While it will not provide 100% certainty, it will greatly increase protection while still allowing travelers an open door to our island.
Such is the nature of leadership. You can be sure the concerns of all residents, from the business owner on the edge of bankruptcy to the kupuna and medically fragile, ALL weigh heavily on the minds and hearts of those councilmember’s who will ultimately vote “yay” or “nay” on Resolution 2020-57.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves presently in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.