Why not start now?
To Gov. David Ige, Mayor Harry Kim, and others who currently hold dictatorial powers over the citizens of the Big Island:
Since you insist on quarantining everyone who comes to the Big Island, I have a small suggestion: Test everyone who comes to the Big Island, then send them to quarantine in place. When the test result comes back, inform the visitor/resident and, depending on the test result, release them from quarantine (negative result) or keep them quarantined (positive result).
I mention this because I would like to visit my 90-year-old father who lives by himself in a small condo in Bellevue, Washington, but I dread coming back home and having to quarantine in place for two weeks. I anticipate you won’t follow this suggestion for multiple reasons including not enough testing machines, not enough swabs, not enough reagents, not enough personnel, the test isn’t reliable enough, or we don’t have the money to do this. If money is the limiting factor, I would be happy to pay — give us the choice: pay for a test or quarantine in place for two weeks.
If we are ever going to welcome tourists back to the Big Island, we are going to have to start testing. Why not start now? Last week, our political leaders said that we must start testing tourists before they get on their flights to Hawaii. I agree. Also, since the current number of travelers is very small, this will allow us to work out the “bugs” in the system, so we are prepared when the number of travelers increases.
A more relevant comparison
This letter is in direct response to Monday’s My Turn column by Arne Werchick.
The comparison to Hawaii County of measures instituted by the Hong Kong government is both spurious and facetious. Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Anyone who has ever visited Hong Kong understands the difference.
A far more relevant comparison is with Okaloosa County, Florida. Roughly the same population as Hawaii County. The economies of Hawaii and Okaloosa County are both dominated by tourism. Instead of actions dominated by fear of the coronavirus, Okaloosa County is focused on the well-being of its entire community; especially the economic well-being. Businesses are being reopened. Hotels are open. Vacation rentals will be reopened in a days. Restaurants are open with strict occupancy limits.
Social distancing and masks are mandatory.
The difference between Okaloosa County and Hawaii County is that Okaloosa County understands daily life must return to normal as soon as possible, despite some element of risk. That a small business owner losing their business is just as devastating as the loss of a family member to COVID-19.
The State of Hawaii and Hawaii County appear determined to reduce coronavirus risk to zero before allowing normal activities, including tourists to return. That is unrealistic. Hawaii’s economy has been devastated.
Our economy can be reopened with appropriate measures for social distancing and masks. We do not need mandatory quarantines or tourists wearing ankle bracelets. Small business owners need to reopen; workers need to get back to work.
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