COVID numbers once again are on the decline!
Hopefully, sometime soon, we can return to normalcy, gather again in groups with friends and family, eat out more frequently, and perhaps even testify in person before our government officials.
Of course, now is not the time to rush out and start hugging random people at the airport. No, for many reasons this is probably not a good idea.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. On March 23, Gov. David Ige signed the first stay-at-home order. On Nov. 25, the first coronavirus related fatality on the island of Kaua‘i was reported, and as of Oct. 4, 2021 the death count now stands at 12 — friends, neighbors and family members. Statewide year-to-date there have been 4,382 COVID-related hospitalizations and 811 COVID-related deaths.
The last time a major pandemic swept through the islands was between July 1, 1918 and June 30, 1920. During this two-year period, more than 2,300 people in Hawai‘i died from the H1N1 influenza A virus, commonly referred to as the Spanish flu. According to newspaper reports at the time, many similar strategies such as lock-downs, quarantines and business closures/restrictions were put into place to limit the pandemic’s spread.
It took roughly two years for society to begin its return to normalcy following the initial outbreak of the Spanish flu. That would put us on track for a March 2022 return to normal — a time when football games are played in front of actual spectators, when a baby lu‘au once again marks a child’s first birthday — and, yes, when candidates return to going door-to-door in search of votes.
My plan is to take things one day at a time, watching the daily counts and adjusting behavior accordingly. Maybe I’ll start with reducing my Zoom meetings and actually join associates for coffee and real conversation at some outdoor cafe. Perhaps then I’ll invite a few close friends over to the house and hang outside on the porch for pupu and libation.
My hope is that vaccination rates will continue to climb in our community and our new normal might return much sooner. Personally, I have scheduled my Pfizer booster shot for next week in preparation for a much-delayed visit to the continent. By years-end, I hope to get my second pneumonia jab, AND my final shingles shot. A close friend contracted shingles and said it was bad, bad, bad, and the efficacy rate for the shingles vaccine is 97%.
I totally understand that some in our community are “vaccination hesitant.” I get it also that there is a feeling of distrust of pharmaceutical companies, and I share this distrust. I also don’t really trust banks, insurance companies, oil producers, smartphone manufacturers– and social-media conglomerates. But at the end of the day I do some homework, weigh the pluses and minuses and make my choices.
In the case of my decision on whether to vaccinate for COVID or not, I do the same. Yes, I listen sometimes to Dr. Fauci, the FDA, the WHO, and various other agencies, experts and organizations. While I do not seek out nor watch YouTube videos in search of scientific or medical advice, I do on occasion review studies presented in so-called alternative media.
But at the end of the day my decision is based mostly upon the advice of a handful of physicians here on Kaua‘i who I know and trust, including, of course, my primary-care physician who has looked after me and my family for the past 40 years.
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 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.