For a while, Hawaii was doing a lot of things right in trying to handle the first stages of the coronavirus pandemic, closing down businesses and visitor arrivals that could easily cause contagion to the public. We were following the advice of infectious disease specialists and the federal guidelines to reopen.
Suddenly, other states with less success in handling COVID-19 have started to reopen, and Gov. David Ige wants Hawaii to follow their lead?
No state meets federal guidelines to reopen. We do not yet have widespread virus testing, ability for contact tracing, temperature checks or established protocols for nonessential businesses to reopen. Neither do we have a vaccine, antibody testing or herd immunity.
What we do seem to have is herd stupidity. The second wave is inevitable, and will be worse.
Mark Stitham, M.D.
COVID-19 shows us how to protect environment
During this pause in our usual lives, people report how nature has rebounded. This reveals that environmental damage is the result of our individual decisions. We point our finger at the petroleum producers or coal-burning factories in China rather than take responsibility ourselves.
Our current situation brings home the point that if we choose not to fly, then planes stay on the ground. If we choose not to drive, oil stays in the ground. If we don’t buy more things, then the factories in China don’t spew more carbon, plastic stays out of the ocean and the resources don’t get used.
In the U.S., we are using the planet’s resources at almost five times the rate it can sustain. Much of this is for what we want, not what we need. We can choose how we proceed once the pandemic passes.
Build a future that isn’t dependent on tourism
We must not tragically squander what we have painstakingly gained toward defeating coronavirus through community solidarity and sacrifice.
Opening up the islands to tourism from the U.S. mainland or travelers from countries that have not eliminated the virus will only perpetuate the loss of quality of life we have already experienced, dooming us to a fearful, mask-wearing, socially distanced future where kupuna must cower at home and essential workers risk their lives to take care of the community.
Effectively contact-tracing tourists is not possible. Unenforced quarantine perpetuates community spread. Visitors must reliably test negative just prior to boarding.
Hawaii should follow the lead of New Zealand and Australia, working to open protective travel corridors from locations that have completely eradicated COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the state should aggressively stimulate new jobs that promote self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability, reducing our contribution to the 8% of global warming carbon footprint attributable to tourism.
Ellen Sofio, M.D.
Upgrade technology, conditions for workers
Let’s hope we learned our lesson from the Great Recession and avoid knee-jerk reactions to the dramatic but temporary loss of state revenue.
Cutting government spending and further plunging the state workforce into poverty is a bad idea and will cost the state much more on the back end: more in dollars and more in human suffering, worse infrastructure, more homeless and mentally ill on the street, and more invasive species, just to name a few.
Here’s an idea: The governor could be a true leader. Find a way to use this crisis to invest in upgrading the state’s computer systems and properly paying its workforce. Then, the best and brightest may want to choose a career in government service. He could use some of the stimulus money to get this done. Set a course for excellence instead of continuing down the path of mediocrity.
Keep child’s visits, vaccines updated
As a pediatrician, I want to share a very important concern that has come up as a result of this COVID-19 pandemic. Understandably, parents are scared of bringing their children in to the doctor’s office out of fear of exposing them to the coronavirus.
However, by canceling or postponing their child’s well visits and vaccines, they are now sowing the seeds of another huge health crisis.
As immunization rates drop, in some areas as much as 50%, we are now putting millions at risk for vaccine- preventable diseases such as measles, whooping cough and more.
Remember, pediatricians are doing everything possible to make it safe to come in. Do not put our community at greater risk for vaccine-preventable diseases. Keep your child’s well visit and vaccines updated.
Theresa Wee, M.D.
Child care crisis bigger than politicians admit
The politicians in the state of Hawaii took the step of closing down summer school for the Department of Education, and the majority of private schools followed suit.
In addition, most summer programs for children are either canceled or in limbo. So now we need to open up the economy and parents need to go back to work, yet there are more than 150,000 school-aged children left in limbo.
Have the politicians who shut down the summer education programs thought about how they are going to address this crisis, or even acknowledge that it is an issue? I haven’t seen or heard mention of it.
It is the biggest concern of almost every parent in the state who doesn’t have family on-island to depend on. And even for those who do: Can we really depend 100% on our kupuna to shoulder this responsibility?
St. Damien honored for strength, compassion
For the sake of clarity and correct information regarding your front page (“State seeking solutions,” Star-Advertiser, May 12): The flowers placed at the foot of the statue of St. Damien commemorate his feast day, which is May 10.
Amid so much discouraging news, Damien’s life is an inspiring example of a person who suffered isolation and still continued to find value in life by offering his life in the service of the many who were stricken by the dreaded Hansen’s disease.
Strengthened by his faith in the Good God, he “triumphed” over the 16 years he lived in the settlement of Kalaupapa.
The Rev. Herman Gomes
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