VOICES: Return to Safe Travels program for Kaua‘i’s sake

The pandemic has decimated Kaua‘i’s economy. Businesses continue to fail and our residents are desperate. In December, Mayor Kawakami opted out of the Hawai‘i Safe Travels program. Since then, we have seen the desperation spread as a temporary slump turns into permanent damage.

Tourism is the engine of our island economy. It provides employment for thousands of Kaua‘i residents. The money spent by visitors circulates throughout the community, and the taxes it generates pay for county infrastructure and services. The argument over whether and how to diversify our economy is one for another day. We can redesign the house once we put out the fire in the kitchen.

Last week TGI published an opinion piece by several influential local community members. The gist of the argument was that visitor travel was and is a problem across the state. The science does not support their arguments.

The authors state: “In the first seven months of the pandemic, Kaua‘i had 60 infections. After one month of the state’s unsafe-travel plan, Kaua‘i’s total caseload spiked to 120. Of those post-reopening cases, 80% were incoming travelers. The state’s unsafe plan was unquestionably the cause.”

It is true 80% were incoming travelers, but these were a mix of returning residents and visitors. And the much-larger proportion of total cases was actually made of returning residents. For November 2020, Kaua‘i had 49 cases. Forty cases were travel-associated (24 resident and 16 non-resident), and nine were community-spread. Of the 40 travel-related cases, 16 were positive tests received after arrival. Only 1/3 of all the cases in November were visitors.

What would have happened if we had continued with the Safe Travels program after Governor Ige instituted the requirement that incoming visitors have a negative pre-departure test in-hand upon arrival? The statement that the state’s Safe Travels plan was “unquestionably the cause” is false.

Sample sizes in the dozens, like the monthly case numbers on Kaua‘i, are difficult to draw conclusions from. Small numbers of individual cases can have an outsize effect on the data. A family of five returning from the mainland and testing positive after coming home can dramatically skew small numbers like ours. So we can’t really draw valid conclusions from just Kaua‘i’s cases. We need to look at larger data sets like those available statewide.

The authors of last week’s opinion piece say “Kaua‘i wisely opted out. Maui didn’t — and went from 1% of the state’s total cases to 18% today.”

This is not a useful correlation, and it doesn’t examine the underlying cause of the increase. Maui has had clusters and community spread unrelated to travel since last August, starting with an outbreak at Maui Memorial Medical Center. Their travel-related cases have actually dropped as a percentage of their overall case count. The increase in cases on Maui is community-driven.

In their article, the authors state: “The lieutenant governor’s own Safe Travels Surveillance Study was quietly terminated after 18 positives out of 2,507 post arrival PCR tests from O‘ahu, Maui and Kaua‘i showed that the pre-departure test missed at least seven of 1,000 travelers — seven times the prediction of the state’s travel plan.”

According to Civil Beat, Dec. 15, 2020, “While nearly 346,000 people arrived in Hawai‘i between Oct. 16 and Dec. 1, the study period, the state has recorded just 226 known positive (travel-related) coronavirus cases, which is a rate of about 0.61 per 1,000 people, according to the study.” Drawing a conclusion based on 18 positive cases is to again rely on an extremely-small data set. The larger data set cited in Civil Beat will provide a better analysis, and it shows a low number of positives slipping past the single-test protocol.

Another argument by the authors: “There appears to be a concerted effort to blame local residents for the COVID spread. Those minimizing the role of travel are denying a basic pandemic fact: TRAVEL CAUSES SPREAD.”

This conclusion is not supported by the data. Statewide between October and January, community spread represented between 66% and 95% of total cases statewide. Visitor-travel cases have varied between 1% and 4% over the same period. Returning-resident travel-related cases made up the second-largest portion of cases, after community spread.

And, logically, visitors represent a lower threat of spread than returning residents. Returning residents come home from spending time in close quarters with mainland friends and relatives, they visit casinos, then they live, socialize and work with family, friends and co-workers here on the island. Visitors tend to have less prolonged close contact with locals. The relatively low numbers of visitor-travel cases statewide supports this view.

The authors say “(T)he state’s travel plan is likely a significant cause of the triple-digit, seven-day, new-cases average that plagued Hawai‘i throughout January.”

Again, the science doesn’t support this conclusion. Community-associated spread statewide has been the main source of infection for most of the pandemic. It has hovered around 85% since November. The main cause of triple-digit spikes in Hawai‘i have been get-togethers like barbecues, Thanksgiving and Christmas. If visitors were the cause of the spike in statewide numbers in December (3,597) and in January (3,829), why did we see higher spikes in August (6,433) and September (3,850) when we had a 14-day quarantine in effect?

It’s easy to cherry-pick statistics, or to make broad conclusions from small sample sizes like we have on Kaua‘i. But when you look at larger numbers taken statewide, and dig deeper into data like the Maui-has-spikes, the statistical data tells us that visitors are not a major cause of COVID spread in Hawai‘i.

In the beginning of this pandemic, there was much uncertainty. But after nearly a year of trial and error, we have enough information to make an informed decision. There is a middle ground between a 10-day quarantine (or three days in a bubble; more on this in my next letter) and unregulated tourism.

The Safe Travels program data shows that, while not perfect, having a pre-departure negative COVID test in hand upon arrival would allow us to balance a small percentage of visitor-related travel cases with reopening our economy. We need to return to the Safe Travels program for the sake of our island economy and the people who live here. Without tourism, the damage will only get worse.


Michael McGinnis is a resident of Kapa‘a.

  1. Erzincanli February 15, 2021 1:52 am Reply

    Could not agree with you more. Opponents of 1286 either cherry pick or use false numbers to support their scientifically unsupported arguments. In addition of course they are all well to do mostly retired and do not need to work for a living.

  2. Jamie Rainbow February 15, 2021 2:01 am Reply

    Excellent article Mr. McGinnis, But I think miss the point of the CDC guidelines that ask people not to travel right now unless you absolutely have too. I see you have 3 retail businesses, almost every time I read someone say we desperately need to open the economy, they own a business. I am very sad for all the businesses that have had to close because of covid, but I am sadder for the deaths of so many. The sad truth is that until everybody feels safe only the people who feel this is a hoax are going to travel. I speak from decisions I have had to make living in Ca. I can drive to so many nice places but I don’t because it puts me at a higher risk and all the people I come in contact at a higher risk and I have been asked by my state and federal governments not to travel. They did not say well if your going on vacation it is all right but don’t go anywhere else. I am truly sorry for business owners and others who rely on the tourist dollar to survive. The truth is that in 1-3 years when everything is back to normal all the business will return. I doubt you will be homeless or starve and if your business fails as 70-80% of new businesses do someone will buy it and reopen it within the next few years. I know it seems harsh, but no harsher than Oahu controlling the county of Kauai and forcing it to it’s will and the will of the travel industry, I have friends on Kauai and they are working people, not retired and they are very happy with what the Mayor has done so far. Kauai is a shinning example of putting people over profit and I think the majority of people won. I wish the 72,000 people on the island could put it to a vote, that is the only fare solution, until that is done each side say they have the will of the people at heart. Let the people decide not some other island.

    1. Jeff S. February 15, 2021 6:37 pm Reply

      “The truth is that in 1-3 years when everything is back to normal all the business will return. I doubt you will be homeless or starve and if your business fails as 70-80% of new businesses do someone will buy it and reopen it within the next few years.”

      What an asinine thing to say! Your head is filled with rainbows.

    2. Tina French February 16, 2021 6:15 am Reply

      I would be interested to know where you derive your income to provide food & shelter for your family? You seem to think nothing of the many small business owners losing their life savings and income to provide for their families. It sounds just fine to you.
      Ms. Rainbow how about you give up your life savings, your income to “keep people safe”? Are you aware there has been one COVID death on Kauai and it was an elderly gentleman in his 80’s with pre-existing health conditions? Are you aware that they have lost over 10 young men to suicide in less than 12 months?? What about those deaths? Do those not bother you?
      If you want to listen to everything your state & federal government tell you to do and to not do…go ahead, but don’t expect others to go down in that sinking ship with you.
      Again, I can only imagine if you were faced with having to feed your children or provide them shelter, that you might not be so keen on following your great state and federal leaders.

      1. Jamie Rainbow February 17, 2021 1:24 am Reply

        Thanks Tina,

        Spoken like a true business owner. Let the people of Kauai decide.

  3. John Doe February 15, 2021 7:18 am Reply

    Excellent fact based data driven analysis. Thank you for your thoughtful article. I agree 100%

  4. Martin Curnan February 15, 2021 7:31 am Reply

    I applaud Mr McGinnis for provided the true information on the data

  5. John Patt February 15, 2021 7:38 am Reply

    Michael McGinnis, We need tourism, but we are close to having a vaccine widely distributed. If we re-open before a critical mass has been vaccinated, we will only have to shut down again.
    We need to maintain our vigilance more than ever, especially with the new more deadly COVID variants emerging.
    Our tourism survived Iniki, 911, the housing crash, and it will survive COVID.

  6. Patrick H Flores February 15, 2021 8:30 am Reply

    Thank you Mr. Mc Ginnis for stating truth, the one thing that government officials fear.
    Patrick H Flores, Wailua Houselots

  7. Mike February 15, 2021 8:44 am Reply

    Well said Mr. McGinnis, now is the time to return to the state’s pre-travel testing program. Already 20+ percent of residence have been vaccinated and that includes the island’s most vulnerable. But there is politics going on here. How many of the big bubble hotels are political and/or financial supporters of the Mayor? The small guys, part time residence and people who own one or two vacation rentals have no voice in spite of their contribution to the island’s economy. Why do we keep hearing baseless arguments about the hospitals being overrun? Why can’t we get statistical data about the number of COVID patients in the hospitals at any point in time during the pandemic? What difference does it make how many ICU beds the hospitals have when the very view people who actually have needed one during the pandemic were sent to Honolulu?


  8. Andrew February 15, 2021 8:45 am Reply

    This guy: “Sample sizes in the dozens, like the monthly case numbers on Kaua‘i, are difficult to draw conclusions from. ”
    Agreed, so let’s let experts “draw conclusions”. They want to re-open too, but Kauai’s infrastructure is limited regarding large pandemic outbreaks.

  9. Patrick Cockett February 15, 2021 8:45 am Reply

    Latest CDC guidelines:the CDC has clarified that after travel one should quarantine for several days and get a second test to exit. Their Feb. 2 guidelines are explicit, including not to travel at all. Safe Travels now clearly goes against these recommendations, and will force all islands to do so. See http://cdc.gov/…/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html Thanks Steve O’neal.

  10. Uncleaina February 15, 2021 9:00 am Reply

    Michael, the actual data doesn’t just not support your ideas, it savagely rejects them. How many deaths per capita each island guy? Then divide by population. Then compare the islands that do what you say to what we’re doing. That’s the actual calculation guy. When you compare Maui to Kauai you see 29 deaths and 2500 infections compared to Kauai with ONE death and 181 infections. And the population of Maui is 144k and here is 66k. So: 1) you’re bad at numbers and 2) the numbers show how dangerous your ideas are. Maui has a per capita infection rate 7x higher than Kauai! You’re advocating for that? Yes you are. Kauai has THE LOWEST COVID RATES IN THE UNITED STATES guy.

    1. I saw a Vampire once February 15, 2021 2:19 pm Reply

      That’s true. But only 70,000 residents to this island. If they go on absolutely value, then forget the nations numbers and stick with Kaua’i numbers. Still spells out the same relative number. Death rate in U.S.A. to be about 47%. So that means the cure is based on that.

  11. Kauaidoug February 15, 2021 9:16 am Reply

    I got a little lost there but thank you for posting. I am no epidemiologist but it seems to me if we are drawing from a population with a high infection rate then we will get more infected, especially with a safe travel plan that we knew was letting in a certain percentage of infected travelers! And as you said any number of infected can make a difference in a small population like ours.
    We need to stay the course, especially with new variants, but the sooner we are all vaccinated the better.

  12. jack custer February 15, 2021 9:58 am Reply

    You can put all the numbers you want on a page to do an analysis, but in the end, it all comes down to the one fact: the pandemic arrived here through air travel. You can’t drive here, you can’t swim here and you can’t walk here. The cruise ships stopped coming almost as soon as Covid was realized. That only leaves air travel. Whether its visitors or returning residents, the disease arrived here (and keeps arriving here) through the airports. If the airlines had been shut down very quickly and then the time taken to figure out a safe way to get here without bringing the pandemic, we wouldn’t have ANY of it in our state. And don’t say that that couldn’t be done because they did it after the World Trade Centers were destroyed, so it would have been possible to do it now too. Our governmental response whether at the county, state or federal level was and is all disjointed, hence the problems our nation is facing.
    And, since we have little to no community spread on Kauai, it seems that what Mayor Kawakami did, by limiting travel, has had a huge impact on the negligible spread of sickness here. The other counties have more sickness and death than we do, so something was done right for us. I don’t disagree wholly with the letter, but it does bear thinking about the situation with a little more open-mindedness when it comes to government response. Yes, many businesses on Kauai have died and I’m not playing that down, it is extremely critical, but as far as I know, only one person has died here. I don’t really believe there is a good remedy for the situation as far as tourism is concerned here and I do want my wife to get to go back to her job, she’s going crazy staying home all the time. But I don’t want to see our misfortunes end at the cost of other people’s lives.

  13. Doug February 15, 2021 10:00 am Reply

    Here’s one big flaw in your plan: the vaccine rollout is very slow. I am 66 years old and will not receive my first vaccine shot until mid March if I am lucky. When will I receive my second, April or May?  Sorry, I do not want to get sick and die in the name of tourism!   90% of the tourists I run into outside of a building do not wear masks even though they are within 6 feet of you and think that since they tested once they are Covid free and cannot be carriers.  And no, I’m not going to hide in my house so tourists can play. Do you think Lanai infected itself? A traveler infected them. Until at least our most vulnerable have had BOTH shots we need to stick to the current plan.

  14. semperubisububi February 15, 2021 10:30 am Reply

    Just a reminder….Kauai has 9 (nine) ICU beds on island to take care of residents and visitors should they have serious illness (heart attack, stroke, and Covid.) And tourists can still come to Kauai. They just have to stay on a neighbor island for at least 3 days and have a negative Covid test before flying here. Our Mayor is doing all the right things to keep us safe and not overwhelm our medical system. This is important now more than ever with the new and more virulent variants that are becoming more dominant on the mainland. This is NOT the time to lower our restrictions or to revert to the Safe Travel Program.

  15. steven February 15, 2021 11:38 am Reply

    Many on Kauai will agree with your reasoning. As the opposing arguement in today’s paper acknowledges

    “• Some 95% of the population, and their representatives, won’t be affected by HB1286 in the near term — they are already open with a single pre-flight test — so this is not on their radar”

    95 % of Hawaii is taking the risk and contributing to the State of Hawaii increased GE and TAT. These funds are unsed to support Kauai’s schools and roads and some beaches.

  16. Joe Public February 15, 2021 11:53 am Reply

    I totally support the Mayors decision throughout the pandemic. He made good choices that kept our numbers down.

  17. Cardo February 15, 2021 11:56 am Reply

    With all due respect Mr. Ginnis, this is the same rhetoric coming from Govt Ige and House Speaker Scott Saiki who introduced HB1286. I disagree with you, Kauai does need to diversify its economy. Kauai County Office of Economic Development recently received proposals for the 2021 Innovation Grants. NOW is the time for enhanced community involvement to create a self-determining destination. Tourism has its place but it not the top priority. If you live here then you would know and understand that the safety and self-sufficiency of the island and community is the top priority for the people of Kauai.
    Aloha Michael

  18. Peter February 15, 2021 12:18 pm Reply

    Well written but I’m afraid it’s way too logical and rational for a vast majority of Kauai residents who, if they even read this article, will counter with non-factual, emotionally based arguments in support of keeping tourists out.

    1. nobody February 16, 2021 7:16 am Reply

      So true!

  19. Susan Bernard February 15, 2021 12:32 pm Reply

    I was in Florida when COVID began and have been unable to return to Kauai because travel is not safe for an eighty yr old. It’s not safe for anyone but significantly more deadly for seniors. I have been sheltering at home for eleven months while tourists run around like nothing is happening. Florida’s encouraging tourism and events such as the Daytona 500 and the Super Bowl have made the environment deadly for locals. The economic stressors are real but so are the deaths and disabilities caused by COVID. People on vacation have thrown caution to the wind or they wouldn’t be on airplanes. Beware.

    1. Reality Bites February 16, 2021 4:21 am Reply

      Florida has been open, and pretty much normal, since this Scamdemic began, without millions of people dying, because well, there is a 99% survival rate except for those over 70. No teachers have died. No children have died. FL has become the Scamdemic model state.

      So, for a recap, you don’t work, you don’t have a need to provide an income to your family, and should not be going to big gatherings like the SB and D500 anyway, and I doubt you would even attend if you could.

      The plan all along, until we understood the minor severity of this disease, SHOULD have been for those of working age to continue working, and those at risk, over 60-70, should isolate, because you don’t work anyway.

      The 500K deaths are with COVID….it is how they are counting the deaths….not reality. Japan a dense population of 126M reported 2K deaths from COVID, yet 20K deaths from suicide. The part no one talks about are the repercussions of everyone staying at home, watching NETFLIX and collecting Government checks.

      Finally, travel in a jet, which is how I think you would travel, could not be any safer right now. You have less than a 1% chance of contracting COVID on a jet. SMH.

      1. Jamie Rainbow February 17, 2021 1:30 am Reply

        Talk about bogus numbers, how about those suicides being down in Hawaii in 2020 ? Fake news?

    2. Heraldo February 16, 2021 5:02 pm Reply

      Lady…just being 80 is a health risk in of itself. Have you enjoyed a fulfilling life. We’re your children able to attend school and play sport and participate in extra curricular activities. If you were 35 years old living an active healthy lifestyle and an 80yo woman in another state said you should keep not working and let your family suffer because you want to be able to travel to hawaii again. Jeezus Christmas. Get grip

  20. Chris G February 15, 2021 10:12 pm Reply

    Much of what you say is fully accurate, but your conclusions about the safety of re-opening the island are not.

    Cases on all other islands are of course dominated by community spread now. That wasn’t the case before. The first cases in each island of course had to come from other islands, and the public health measures were not sufficient to detect or contain them. That has now happened with every other island except Kauai.

    And of course there are more returning residents that are testing positive, as compared to tourists. This is for several reasons, but none of them are truly relevant here. The solution for both returning residents and tourists, which must be treated the same way per the constitution, is to force a 3-day quarantine and a second test. That works. That is working for Kauai now.

    In a month or two, once all high-risk residents have had the chance to get vaccinated, let’s have this debate again. The idea that Kauai should be forced to re-open before that happens is just negligent and *will* result in the deaths of local residents. And yes, the economy will be able to withstand a month or two of limited tourist numbers, despite the monthly claims that all Kauai businesses will fail if immediate action is not taken..

  21. james February 16, 2021 7:02 am Reply

    I think the real question is why does the State want to pull a power-play on Kauai? The answer is two-fold. First, the obvious influence of big business. Big hotel chains, rental car companies and other tourism based businesses are lobbying to override our Mayor’s current plan which restricts travel, hence causing tourism based industries to continue to lose money. Small business suffers as well but I’m not convinced that the State is influenced much by small business concerns. Secondly, and maybe a little less obvious, our Mayor has positioned himself well for a run for higher office and the powers-that-be have others who they would like to see in those higher offices, whom they can control or influence to a greater extent than Kawakami. So this is a shot over the bow to take him down a notch. Politics and power: always involved in these scenarios,

  22. Aloha808 February 16, 2021 8:24 am Reply

    Nice to see the Garden Island Newspaper publishing the viewpoint of this author, rather than what I’ve seen up to this time (e.g. former Mayors, former County Council members, and a former physician/CEO of Wilcox Hospital/father of current County Council member – all who are against Ige and Green on the Safe Travels Program). Everyone on the island should be heard equally in our local media publications, especially during this divisive time.

  23. Susan Oakley February 16, 2021 9:19 am Reply

    Aloha, Michael McGinnis ..

    As I have shared on other opinions regarding HB1286, in the four months prior to October 15th, when Hawaiʻi’s 14-day-quarantine travel restrictions were lifted, the number of Kaua‘i cases increased from 21 cases as of June 15th, to 59 cases as of October 15th — 38 new cases in four months. In the four months since October 15th, the Kaua‘i numbers have increased to 179 cases — 120 new cases in four months. Kaua‘i had a two-week period last month where 20 new cases were recorded (Jan 9-22); over these last two weeks we had one new case.

    Here are Hawaiʻi’s County populations per the 2010 US Census, for computing numbers below:

    Hawaiʻi Island – 185,079
    Kaua‘i – 72,029
    Lānaʻi – 3,131
    Māui – 154,834
    Molokaʻi – 7,345
    Oʻahu– 976,372

    According to the State of Hawaiʻi website:
    Statewide – 26, 889 cases, 895 in the past 14 days, and 426 total deaths.

    Hawaiʻi Island has had 2,216 cases, 45 in the past 14 days, and 53 deaths.
    Kaua‘i – 179 cases, 1 in the past 14 days, and 1 death.
    Lānaʻi – 108 cases, 2 in the past 14 days, and no deaths.
    Māui – 1,947 cases, 198 in the past 14 days, and 29 deaths.
    Molokaʻi – 27 cases, 2 in the past 14 days, and no deaths.
    Oʻahu – 21,620 cases, 647 in the past 14 days, and 340 deaths.
    Out of state – 792 cases and 3 deaths.

    Per capita ratios by Island:
    Hawaiʻi Island – 1 case per 84 residents
    Kaua‘i – 1 case per 402 residents
    Lānaʻi – 1 case per 29 residents
    Māui – 1 case per 80 residents
    Molokaʻi – 1 case per 272 residents
    O‘ahu – 1 case per 45 residents

    Instead of our 179 cases and one death, Kaua‘i would have the following numbers using other Counties’ stats:
    Using Big Island per capita ratio, Kaua‘i would have 862 cases and 21 deaths
    Using Lānaʻi, Kaua‘i would have 2,485 cases (0 deaths)
    Using Māui, Kaua‘i would have 906 cases and 13 deaths
    Using Molokaʻi, Kaua‘i would have 265 cases (0 deaths)
    Using O‘ahu, Kaua‘i would have 1,595 cases and 25 deaths

    As of this writing, the US population is 332,233,588, with 27,692,690 COVID-19 cases and 486,317 deaths. That ratio computes to 1 case for every 12 persons in the US has been infected with COVID-19. One person for every 683 persons in the US has died. The US will surpass 500,000 COVID-19 **DEATHS** before the end of the month.

    Our health care facilities and workers are limited and stretched to the max.

  24. Wahoo February 16, 2021 10:48 am Reply

    I applaud Mr. McGinnis’ entrepreneurialism as a successful shop owner on Kauai, and if he wants to argue that the economic merits of ignoring CDC recommendations for the benefit of the economy, he is welcome to do that. However, the vast majority of his opinion piece is nothing more than a poorly supported attack on the article written by “several influential members of the community”. The fact of the matter is that the arguments made by these influential members of the community *are* supported by science. Assertions to the contrary are uninformed and misleading at best. As others have commented, CDC travel guidelines have been updated to reflect that. For those who really want to dive into the science, see the CDC pre-print paper which concludes that a single pre-travel COVID test three days prior to travel only reduces COVID transmission by 5%-9%. The CDC paper also highlights the dramatic improvement in efficacy of a two test approach. This article was highlighted in mainstream news media in November. The article entitled “Reducing travel-related SARS-CoV-2 transmission with layered mitigation measures: Symptom monitoring, quarantine, and testing” is posted here:


    If the best argument the business community can make for ignoring CDC guidelines is that these guidelines are not based on science, then that’s very telling. The expression “weak sauce” comes to mind.

    1. Jamie Rainbow February 17, 2021 1:40 am Reply

      Thank you, Wahoo

      But that is not the science I like, I prefer the science from a podcast from a guy in his basement, he’s not confused by all of these facts.

  25. watermother February 16, 2021 11:48 am Reply

    Thank you TGI for providing both sides of the resident’s opinion. After I read this article, I realized there is a very bias opinion in posting the previous article of the author on TGI (2/7/2021), “VOICES: House Speaker Scott Saiki’s travel-policy bill unsafe for Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i” It influenced all of us to oppose the HB1286 Bill. As an elderly, I was freaked out and jumped to voice my opinion on the HB1286 bill without double-checking the information that the previous author provided in her article! I assume the author and TGI checked the fact and always try to provide accurate data to the reader. Shame on me, I have a Ph.D. but just blindly believe in the previous article.
    Mr. McGinnis, your information seems far more accurate with explanations in great detail. Thank you again. From your article, we, Kauai residents would be safe with the Safe Travels program. The rate of a positive case of 0.61 people per 1,000 people that slip through Safe travel is totally acceptable to me.

    1. Wahoo February 16, 2021 6:35 pm Reply


      Unfortunately, you’re doing it again – believing numbers without fact checking. If you want to talk about “cherry picking” statistics, the numbers McGinnis quoted should be at the top of the list. Kauai had a much higher positivity rate of people who had “passed” the Safe Travels Program in that time, with a data set (according to HTA) of about 36,000 people coming to Kauai during the stated time interval. That’s a large enough data set from which to draw some conclusions with reasonable confidence interval.

  26. Kaaona Kipuka February 16, 2021 3:16 pm Reply


    1. are you racist, too? February 16, 2021 4:54 pm Reply

      so much aloha in your post…

  27. A. Archer Thomas February 16, 2021 3:27 pm Reply

    Mr McGinnis, your letter was based on facts taken directly from the Hawaii Dept of Health statistics and show a grasp of basic epidemiology that our current politicians sorely lack. Thank you for avoiding emotional rhetoric and for taking a strong stance on a realistic path forward. Please save your letter and resubmit it 5 years from now when the headlines of GIN are focused on food insecurity and homelessness.

  28. Jay Williamson February 16, 2021 3:52 pm Reply

    “1 – 3 years back to normal” is what uncle would call a pipe dream. It is more likely that in February 2024, “normal” will be just like “today”.

  29. james February 17, 2021 7:55 am Reply

    How else does the virus get to Kauai other than travel? All cases are travel related, obviously. Community spread is just another way of saying “we know it originated with travel, but we can’t trace the exact source because too much has happened in between the time the virus arrived via travel and now.” How else would we have any cases in the State if it weren’t for travel as some point in time? Explain to me how I’m wrong.

  30. KauaiFarmMan February 18, 2021 8:06 am Reply

    Cases are down in Hawaii. Rest of state is open for Safe Travel tourism. As of Wednesday this week only 29 new cases reported. Pre test travel works!! Open up already!! We have way more suicide deaths then Covid. End this tyranny and give us back the right to travel and give us the tourists we need to support our businesses and island. Most of Kapuna are vaccinated already. Why do the rest of us need to suffer? We need a open economy. We need freedom to travel.

  31. Art Ignacio February 18, 2021 8:28 am Reply

    A lot of good rebuttals to this opinion piece. I’ll just chip in the misuse of numbers. The author says

    “Drawing a conclusion based on 18 positive cases is to again rely on an extremely-small data set. The larger data set cited in Civil Beat will provide a better analysis, and it shows a low number of positives slipping past the single-test protocol.”

    A larger quantity does not necessarily mean more important. If you go to the actual study that Civil Beats cites, these numbers come from a section “Direct Retesting of Negative Pretested Arrivals.” It goes directly to the proposition: how many are slipping through and could become disease vectors. The author did not note that same Civil Beats article he cited went on to note:

    “It also tracked the results of post-arrival tests given to nearly 22,000 travelers on a voluntary basis during the study period, with 50 testing positive. Those included 32 of 19,456 people who participated in Hawaii County’s surveillance testing program, and 18 of another 2,500 or so on other islands.”

    Had this surveillance testing been allowed to continue, we would have the more accurate numbers. Kauai tracked that specific number: those who tested positive after entering through the Safe Travels Program. The other counties and the state have been less transparent on this number, and quite possibly did not record them.

    1. Aloha808 February 20, 2021 11:57 am Reply

      “The other counties and the state have been less transparent on this number, and quite possibly did not record them.” This is a serious assumption about the data collection and/or reporting quality of the officials from all Counties in Hawaii, NOT including Kauai. The data is published here, and if it’s being underreported or incorrectly collected, do you have evidence to support your statement? https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/data/. If not, then the author is drawing rational conclusions from the published data, while you are drawing far-reaching conclusions based on disputing the published data.

  32. Bryan from the Mainland February 20, 2021 9:22 am Reply

    We’ve postponed a planned trip from Seattle to Kauai three times over the past year. This last postponement pushed us out to April 1-8. We are booked at a private condo and obviously it is not part of the EMQ bubble plan. We were disappointed to hear that Mayor Kawakami is extending the EMQ until at least the month of May; HOWEVER, we’re also extremely empathetic to the concerns of the full residents of Kauai regarding the pandemic, hospital availability and resources.

    My question for anyone reading from the Island is this: If my wife, son, and I come to the Island, abide by the EMQ plan (stay in a bubble for the first three days) and test negative throughout, will there be a vibe of animosity from the people we pass by? Or will there be general sense of Aloha? Will we be seen as selfish haole or will we be ok? We don’t want to add to the pain of the residents. I realize that there is a strong argument on either side, but I’m curious to see what kind of feedback comes.

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