EVSLIN: A really bad bill for Kaua‘i

Speaker of the House Scott Saiki has submitted HB 1286 for legislative approval. This bill essentially calls for a unified Safe Travels program statewide.

It removes the power of individual mayors to opt out of the Safe Travels program, and it also appears to disable the governor’s ability to enact emergency legislation in regard to travel and COVID.

This bill is a really bad idea.

The next three months are filled with uncertainty.

As Dr. Janet Berreman, Kaua‘i’s district health officer, has stated, “We are in a race between vaccines in the arm and a tsunami of illness.”

Variants of the coronavirus have been blamed for huge surges in cases, particularly in the UK, possibly also in California and in other places.

Some of these variants are now in Hawai‘i, posing a huge threat, especially if more cases are imported.

The current Safe Travels program only requires a single pretest for a traveler to avoid quarantine. It has been well proven that a single test will miss 30% to 40% of those who are infected and traveling. A single test does not pick up anyone in the early stages of the disease or people who may have caught it during their travels.

The bill and the Safe Travels program ignore the CDC’s travel recommendations, which include a pretest, a seven-day, self-quarantine, and a second test three to five days after arrival. The bill also forces mayors to ignore these recommendations. It is very important to note that our mayor, by opting out and then instituting the bubble resort concept, has had the following results:

w In 2020 our hotel occupancy was almost equal to the other counties. Maui and Kaua‘i were both at about 33%. Most impressive, though, is that, from Jan. 17 to 23, 2021, Kaua‘i’s occupancy rate was at 19.7%, Maui at 20.1% and O‘ahu at 21.7%. There is also a steady increase in tourists using the bubbles for the first few days of their trips, with more hotels and flights planned;

• Kaua‘i’s vaccination program has been one of the most-efficient and rapidly-moving programs in the country, partially due to our very-low case count and the ability to put our resources into vaccinations rather than illnesses;

• We remain one of the safest counties in the country. Our local businesses and residents enjoy the freedom of the least-restrictive tier 4, while O‘ahu has climbed to tier 2 restrictions.

The good news is that places like California, which had a terrible surge resulting in a high number of deaths and filling their hospitals, appears to be on the downslope of disease.

It is even possible that the whole country is slowly starting to show some signs of recovery. The additional good news is that the vaccination programs are taking off, and that very-rapid, very-inexpensive home tests for COVID will be available in the very near future.

However, experts are saying that although there is some good news, the danger in the near future should not be underestimated. These variants can sweep through a community, overwhelming even the best of medical-care systems.

We will know a lot more over the next months, and may even find the whole world suddenly looking more normal.

We should not let down our guard at this junction. Kaua‘i was in the Safe Travels program for about seven weeks. During that time, we doubled the number of cases we had in the entire previous seven months.

Virtually all the new cases were travel-related. Kaua‘i opted out of the Safe Travels program and our numbers rapidly returned to less than one new case per day.

Maui remained in the program, and went from having about 1% of the cases in the state to having about 18% of the state’s total number. They began to see 15 to 30 new cases per day, and the Big Island was not far behind.

I believe HB 1286 should die in committee. Allow the mayors to decide what is best for their counties as we rapidly immunize. With the good numbers on Kaua‘i, we can and should further open the schools.

Bottom line: Don’t force the mayors to ignore the CDC recommendations. Roll out the vaccines, find ways to use the new, easy-to-use tests, and celebrate our good numbers by further opening schools. Above all, let’s not stumble at what could be the end of the worst of this pandemic.

This column represents a sharing of information. No content on this column should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.


Lee A. Evslin, M.D., is a board-certified pediatrician and fellow of The American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a former health-care administrator on Kaua‘i and periodically writes a column for The Garden Island.

  1. USAF Brat February 5, 2021 6:07 am Reply

    The More than 128-years we Have said A’ole (No), the more u.s.a. military Marines and EU sugar baron, including “stacks of military bases placed without a treaty” with their transplants, says “Go”! (all day every way, back2back) “why pay more hawaii”(Lex Brody)! Now, We mirror the same kinds of infidels Z, O, CCP, Hawaii island, Oahu, and Kauai Kingpin P.A. Judges, court jesters n Cops, as in D.C. There are a kukai-boatload of “power couple” who cannot even keep track of their “guilty stolen mailbox fraud, much less thousands more that have yet to fess up on THEIR indescretions. We have lived it and KNOW who you are, Game Over!

  2. Erzincanli February 5, 2021 6:44 am Reply

    I disagree with the author. He and the others who have stable incomes have done well under the draconian measures taken in Kauai. Not so the small business owners, workers whose income depend on tourism. The author is also using data that is for the whole year in trying to compare Kauai to the other islands. The proper comparison is the data AFTER Kauai bailed out of safe travels. for example December 2020 occupancy- which is for Kauai only 13.4% whereas the other islands are in the mid twenties which means their occupancy is approximately TWICE Kauai’s. I suspect the data for January will be the same when it is available. If the idea of resort bubbles was so good why the major hotels of the Island have refused to participate even after they were approved as bubbles e.g. Hyatt, Sheraton Poipu etc. . Not surprisingly the author puts his own health above the economic well beings of the working class. If Kauai expects the benefits of being part of Hawaii and of USA it also has to accept the risks of the larger society. It can not argue about getting all the benefits without sharing in the risks.

    1. Look Deeply February 5, 2021 5:14 pm Reply

      I don’t think the author is letting concern for his own health drive his conclusions. HB 1286 is squarely aimed at getting Kaua’i to tow the state line – and that should concern anyone as the islands are very different.

      Here is one way to look at it. When open, Kauai was averaging 15 visitors for every traveling resident, while Oahu had just two 2 visitors for every traveling resident. Maui shows us why this matters.

      Maui has about 8 visitors for every traveling resident. Since opening October 15th, Maui went from 1% of the state’s cases, and little community spread to 18% of the state’s cases.

      During this time, Oahu dropped from 89% to 74% of the state’s active cases – quite possibly transferring their reduction directly to Maui.

      I suspect the key reason is the visitor burden Maui bears vs Oahu – 36% of the visitors with only 12% of the population. In any case, being open killed the chance of Maui’s schools opening safely.

      Kaua’i with 15 visitors per traveling resident would likely fare even worse if they stayed open.

      There are emerging studies making it clear that we are in a race to get vaccinated – especially with variants making headway. Pushing the last island with cases under control and no real community spread to open as the others have makes no sense for the next few months. Let’s get the vaccinations out and then I suspect there will be no need for a politically motivated bill to force Mayor Kawakami’s hand. He’ll open the island as soon as he safely can – and with only a single death on his watch, I suspect we’ll recognize that he took the long view and did the right thing.

      The data is clear that a few more months of vaccinations before opening will avoid a 3rd wave, especially if the

  3. Eleanor Snyder February 5, 2021 8:22 am Reply

    Right on Luke! Kauai has done well. We should not have to put ourselves at risk

    1. Rev Dr Malama February 5, 2021 2:00 pm Reply

      Not Luke but his father….
      I prefer to listen to the lieutenant Gov. Who actually contracted COVID-19 and advocated months ago to safe travel test and open schools and businesses.
      Whereas people do make mistakes and we are all going to die at some point from something…. let’s put are faith in the power of democracy folks and open Kauai to the people we decide to make decisions not an authoritarian regime.

  4. Katie February 5, 2021 8:44 am Reply

    Totally agree Luke. Let’s not blow this now, after we’ve come so far. And importantly, yes let’s open open open the schools– that’s what really justifies the sacrifices our business community is making.

  5. james johns February 5, 2021 9:37 am Reply

    Well written and a helpful perspective, but incredibly one sided and too narrow. You are a Dr., have a well paying job, can afford Kauai housing, are not unemployed or have had hours cut back and can feed your family. Got it. I permanently shut down another business this week and know dozens of others that will also close for good soon. That’s another business that laid off employees, another business not paying into the unemployment fund. Life on Kauai is great if you’re in the top 5%, working a government job, or collecting unemployment and SNAP. However, there are a lot of people in the middle.

    1. CommonSenseish February 5, 2021 3:49 pm Reply

      BAM! Well said James John.

    2. MisterM February 5, 2021 7:03 pm Reply

      Comforting to read sane, well-reasoned, accurate commentary instead of the willfully ignorant who spout baseless whackjob conspiracy theories to put profits over people.

      The vaccine is finally here and we simply need the willfully ignorant to get a shot so that the economy can reopen. And rather than seeing 10M unemployed thanks to the ‘I take no responsibility’ orange one-term clown, adults are back in charge and can restart the economy and put hard-working people back to work.

  6. The Big Kahuna February 5, 2021 10:31 am Reply

    Luke follow the science.

    Out of absolute fear the State closed tourism before we knew facts. Ironically your against building a wall from Mexico but ok using the Pacific wall to close tourism.

    We were all led to believe by CNN that contracting Covid was a death sentence hyped to create fear among voters. The science was skewed by numbers from the start. Even today we must hear how many folks contracted Covid and hype the big numbers vs. the scary part which is death 1 person. Yes we stopped our lives for 1 death as tragic as that is the destruction on our youth, jobs, and many small business will have a larger impact than Covid on our health ever will.

    By now we should have protected our Kapuna, fire, police, teachers. The death for those under 75 is very small and if treated quickly is less than .05%

    Its time for our leaders to process that we soon will have nearly 75% of the population vaccinated by the end of May and a opening of the island should be announced as soon as possible so that small business on the island that still have a chance for survival be given that right back.

    Turning Kauai into a welfare community will not help our kids compete for global jobs and will continue to place Kauai behind others in its quest to become less on tourism.

  7. CjnBagley February 5, 2021 10:58 am Reply

    Please, this article will cause more upheaval than help. Hv you not listened to Josh Green. Your number of percentage of tourists arriving positive after testing negative is way off. Vaccines are looking good for containing mutations. As one expert said, if you get the vaccine, there would be no virus, thus no mutations to share. Ramp up the vaccines and allow Kauai to recover from the financial crisis. This article is meant to create havoc and it could be called manipulative. Let’s hope the State legislature does the right thing.
    CBagley,RN, PhD

  8. Everythingisawesome February 5, 2021 11:25 am Reply

    Time to move forward. None of your dire predictions have remotely come true.

  9. Bernard Markowicz February 5, 2021 12:49 pm Reply

    Thank you Dr. Evslin,
    I totally agree with your fact-based article and with your opinion. We, as a community, should be in control of our destiny. Our mayor, County board, and our county health professionals and advisers have successfully managed Kauai’s Covid crisis thus far and we should all be confident in their professional guidance. We are by no means out of the woods. Thank you again for your article.

  10. steven February 5, 2021 1:23 pm Reply

    House Speaker Saiki mentioned the inequities of the island contribution to the State tax revenues. Many of Kauai’s restaurants, retail shops and activities are closed and not contributing. Major hotels are still shut down. Kauai is not contributing to GE or TAT as the other islands. Yet we need the state to fund our schools and roads and some beaches. Of course there is an outcry from those that see the inequities.

    But Kauai is paying a price that will be felt foe enerations. We are an island divided. Many don’t see the homeless or the broken or the drug overdoses. There don’t heare the hopeless with no future, no job, no rental housing because they are unemployed, no health care. This price is not easy to quantify like the 19% hotel occupancy. (Many visitors are forced to stay in the hotels.)

  11. Hey lee February 5, 2021 3:31 pm Reply

    Thanks for your advice however there is a large amount of people that are more concerned with not being homeless and the ability to care for their family at this point that your “expert” advice on letting cowercommie go off his own fear based leadership and bubble preaching. I speak for myself but we are done with you guys making decisions that you “feel” are best for our community.

  12. Khsgrad February 5, 2021 7:17 pm Reply

    Cases, cases, cases….. so tired of hearing about cases!! START quoting recoveries…. and stop trying to fool people with percentages when it benefits the argument! This virus has a 99% recovery rate and interestingly enough, American Cancer Society doesn’t have statistics for Cancer deaths in 2020….. We cannot hide from the invisible boogeyman forever.
    Get back in the Safe Travels Program!

  13. Jamie Rainbow February 5, 2021 10:28 pm Reply

    Hey, this is a democracy why not put it to a vote on the island of Kauai and all the people on the side that loses can just shut up. I think I know how the vote will go. Just for the record I lost my mother in law on new years eve to covid, she had stage 4 spleen cancer for the last year and was fighting, 10 days and covid took her out. If you are for opening you probably have a business, there always seems to be greed involved, at least with the people that think opening up will solve all the problems. I will not travel until I get the vaccine. I am about to miss my third trip planned to Kauai. We all have to sacrifice, some with their business and some with their lives.

  14. Leo d’Lyon February 6, 2021 1:13 am Reply

    The average well off retired pediatrician, during his/her career has vaccinated how many infants, babies, and keiki wherein children before they are 2 years old receive about 42 vaccines…! Times just 5,000 kids is over 200,000 vaccinations injected into children but paid for, main thing paid for. Has the writer of the article achieved those statistics, which proves one being a drug professional, but with how many children stricken with harmful side effects?

    There are so many harmful child side effects to vaccines that the friendly politicians of the vaccine industry passed law protecting vaccine companies from being sued. And when you take the vaccine you will sign your name in agreement to not make a lawsuit too.

    So those of you who have committed these atrocities injecting children with UNproven and UNsafe TOXIC , even Lethal doses of chemicals in children, how many children became autistic, how many had harmful side effects, how many needing other secondary toxic drugs to counter the vaccine side effects?

    This is why many doctors say it Is safer to get the actual Covid virus and its muted variant virus, because you will very soon after infection develop immunity against the Covid virus. and it’s natural variant, as well as becoming NON-contagious and unable to spread the virus to others. All naturally and no side effects.

    And what does a pediatrician do in their career, selling prescription drugs to parents for their children and what was the paid income, are there bank deposit rewards, like in England, by grateful pharmaceutical companies for sales of vaccines and future covid vaccines with the fear threat of the surge is coming.

    The threat, a fake, because those on end of life diseases who die do,to their multiple diseases and daily doses of toxic and lethal prescription drugs, they die from their disease and their daily use of lethal drugs, and the death is blamed on the virus.

    We can see out of fear people think they are going to die from the virus and beg for the vaccine. Why do people believe doctors who make their large incomes from disease, and without disease they’d be on food stamps from no need of their drug ns surgery. Don’t ever get well, you’ll pit you doctor on welfare.

    And what about the death of the 109 year old patient in Hawaii, and Covid is blamed, was it really Covid? 109?

    Hey wear your glasses with your mask and fog up your lenses, because your breath is escaping your mask, or you are breathing in someone else’s virus. Masks don’t work except spread the virus, and now Dr. Fauci says wear 2 masks, he’s joking right?

    Doctors and medical people make their living on disease and selling 4.4 Billion drug prescriptions per year in America alone.

    Selling to 80% of our population who are taking 1 or more prescription drugs every day. Some taking 5 and 10 prescription drugs and some even more. Yes that is some of you.

    That’s a lot of toxic drugs and side effects, and with the presence of the common end-of-life diseases are the cause of many common age related deaths..but conveniently blamed on Covid. The deaths help scare people and making them wiling to obey the mask, 6’, and now the vaccine, and more and more vaccine shots as they increase the fear.

    So drug pills for every illness. Every medical test and X-ray is for the sole purpose of selling a drug or surgery with no attempt or concern to get people well or healthy, it is all about keeping people sick for their entire life and on prescription drugs, decades of sickness and drugs with no making patients well and no further need of drugs, just more and more doctor visits to increase drug dosage or change drugs because the side effect were too sickening requiring more prescription drugs. Vicious cycle that is.

    Bottom line is that doctors and nurses have become hardened to sickness, drug, more sickness and more drugs these last 50 to 60 years of drug taking with no concern for patients getting well and healthy.

    It’s become 2nd nature in a warped kind of way; people get sick, and for some weird unnatural reason doctors and nurses think just add toxic drugs, forget about them getting well and healthy and forget about about them getting off drugs, because medical doctor are drug dealers, and make their living selling drug prescriptions.

    Doctors are solely responsible for the opiate drug addiction epidemic in America, Selling their prescriptions opiates to captive, well, actually helpless addicted patients, and then later turn to street heroin and fentnyl, then homeless and dead from overdose.

    And now with 80% of Americans on prescription drugs, this is medical disease care’s chance to put 100% of Americans on prescription drug vaccines. A medical dream come true.

    Oh sorry, Pfizer’s Covid drug is not qualified to be a vaccine and so it was registered with the FDA, WE’re told, as an “Experimental Man made Gene Therapy”.

    Gene Therapy, injecting genes into people not even testing the Genes for safety. Naive ignorant uneducated civilians begging for the UN-vaccine with experimental genes to alter ones gene pool.

    Does that men they finally got around to GMO-ing the people.

    Right under our very noses and masks…GMO’d. Snuk right up on us…!

    If this vaccine is so important and safe, why hasn’t every doctor and nurse and hospitable administrator and elected officials in America been vaccinated already. Is it because they know better.

    Why is this vaccine patented for profit already?

    Why does Pfizer Pharmaceutical not have enough vaccines for Americans while they have another 1.5 Billion doses ready to sell overseas to other paying customers.

    And AstraZeneca Pharmaceutical they have successfully registered with the FDA as a vaccine, because they are injecting people with their Chimpanzee virus. Peel them a banana…!

    Fools rush in, to vaccines, where wise men fear to tread and won’t roll up their sleeves.

    Choice is yours.

    It is safer, even by statistics to get the natural Covid virus. And if the virus is man made and was released on the world then the scam is an Act of Mass Murder, or even as a virus lab escape, someone is responsible. They say Dr. Fauci may be able to help investigate tracking the virus, he may know how it happened and can help is solve this pandemic without it getting worse or allowing another pandemic to occur in the future.

    And remember many healthy people get the virus and do not even get symptoms. Proof the Intelligence of the human body is stronger than the disease process of the covid virus.

    We agree, it’s already been said by others, “Follow the Natural Path, and avoid the Road to Ruin”.

  15. julialssa February 6, 2021 7:33 am Reply

    Kauai and their local business people have been at the whim of the mayor, a seesaw of start, stop, open and close with changes that visitors are fed up with. The resort bubbles are an indignity and a rip off. People who arrive at the these jail hotels WITH NEGATIVE TESTS are subject to exorbitant fee’s for the tracking bracelets, on resort testing to be released, etc. They do very little if nothing for the local businesses around them. Why can Kauai have people adhere to safe travels like last time, but this time require them to have the negative result in hand at boarding and then agree to a post test 3 days after that has to be recorded in the app. Why can’t people who OWN their own homes on Kauai quarantine there for 3 days vs. 10? IF I could come to Kauai with proof of a negative test and stay in my island home after a 3 day quarantine I would IMMEDIATELY contribute to local business. There are 2 active cases on island, this madness needs to stop now.

    1. Cba February 6, 2021 2:29 pm Reply

      I so agree with you. In order to get to our prison hotel from which we can see our condo we hv to deal with the prison bubble concept. I wonder how Mayor Kamakazi would feel wearing a tracking bracelet. I feel insulted having been in healthcare for 55 years. Apparently, I can’t be trusted or the mayor thinks I hv no ethics. For updated thoughts on how to keep people safe, look to the experts, not a pediatrician and a mayor.
      My husband and I will be totally vaccinated for a month when we arrive and I don’t mind the pretest, but move on. Who are you working for Mr. Mayor?? Whose pockets do you hv your hands in??

  16. Kauaidoug February 6, 2021 12:40 pm Reply

    The reason we have gotten this far with no major outbreaks is because of the science Mayor K has followed. We now know that some of the people on here who did not want to wear masks or shut down the island also believe in lasers fired from space to start forest fires.

    I think I’ll stick with Mayor and Dr Evslin

  17. KauaiFarmMan February 6, 2021 1:18 pm Reply

    Really?!? Our businesses our enjoying Teir 4? Open up travel already !! Can you not see how this shut down has fast tracked gentrification. Home prices are skyrocketing while our economy is falling apart. Soon we will all be priced out of Kauai. This virus is not dangerous enough to warrant these extreme measures. The unfortunate reality is we need tourism to support our families. Until we figure something out better we need to return to the Safe Travel Program and reclaim our economy before we are all on welfare. The media is force feeding us fear. Our leaders are hell bent on total economic destruction. Who is really pulling the strings of our political system and media ?

  18. drsurf February 6, 2021 8:56 pm Reply

    Occupancy rates for hotels are quoted but there are no TVRs, B&Bs and very few second home rentals happening. Very few friends and family visiting.
    Businesses and hurting and/or closed. A true indicator of ‘success’ would be GET collected for certain periods by businesses, not including IU and PUA which is taxed.
    The percentages of those asymptomatic or fully recovered needs to be shown more often.

  19. A Voice from Iowa February 7, 2021 12:42 pm Reply

    We have spent winters on Kauai for the past thirteen years, renting the same condo from the same owner. When we left Kauai on March 17 last year, it didn’t occur to us that we might not be back. Of course, we did not come this winter, due to our inability to get timely, accurate, and reliable testing from a “trusted partner” in our area; followed by the then-14 day bubble quarantine; and, finally, the simple cancellation of our flight. (We don’t expect anyone to miss us but do recognize the devastation of the island economy.) In the intervening months, we’ve gone from not knowing anyone who had the virus to hearing of people who had mild cases to now having dear friends and family who have been stricken, hospitalized, and not likely to recover. Time and spread have brought the realities of the virus closer to our collective hearts. That is the mainland experience, even in a small and low population state with access to more hospital and ICU space . I cannot wish it on Kauai.

  20. Rev Dr Malama February 7, 2021 9:37 pm Reply

    I intend to ask the legislature the very same questions and demand that the Attorney general and Ethics committee get involved with investigations into the Kauai Mayor’s M.O.
    Facts not fiction folks…. you are being sold to a “higher quality [class] of vistor” the Dereking has conspired with the 1% to stay indefinitely… all the while holding generations of Hawai’i people hostage at beach parks and locked up away from friends, schools, dining and earning a living.
    Surviving a year of this political regime will have long and painful consequences for the rest of us nobodys…..

  21. Anne coyle February 9, 2021 1:30 pm Reply

    Mahalo Luke. The only people I hear complaining about the quarantine are people who don’t have senior relatives to worry about (usually transplants from the mainland). Thank you for helping keep our kupuna and local businesses serving the community safe.

  22. Voice February 9, 2021 2:46 pm Reply

    Bubblehead K & JB get your head out of the bubble and let Kauai join with the rest of the State. You are creating a far worse socio-economic crisis than any perceived health threat.

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