comscore Letters: Safe Travels loopholes put travelers at risk; COVID risk low for under-14 population; Doctors need higher reimbursement rate | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Editorial | Letters

Letters: Safe Travels loopholes put travelers at risk; COVID risk low for under-14 population; Doctors need higher reimbursement rate

The Hawaii Safe Travels system is difficult and expensive and, as I have discovered, has some serious loopholes (“End tests for vaccinated, returning isle residents,” Star-Advertiser, Letters, June 4).

I flew from California to Honolulu on April 28. The man sitting next to me said he was not vaccinated and had not bothered to get tested. He said, “I live in Hawaii. I’ll just let them quarantine me.”

I had to have special help to download information on the Safe Travels system. I’m 84 years old. I had just recovered from heart surgery and was traveling to be with my daughter, who was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment. Needless to say, she and I and everyone who cares about us were practicing extreme caution to keep us safe from COVID-19. Yet, here I am sitting next to a man who had been neither vaccinated nor tested for COVID-19.

He was able to board the plane in California and disembark in Honolulu without being checked or stopped by anyone.

Lorraine Yannone



COVID risk low for under-14 population

The Pfizer vaccine is rated at 95% effectiveness, which means only about 5% (5 out of 100) who are vaccinated with Pfizer may get COVID-19 after being vaccinated — an acceptable risk and the lowest risk of all the available vaccines.

The population of Hawaii residents under age 14 is about 252,000. Fewer than 4,600 of those have tested positive for COVID-19, a rate of about 1.8% (1.8 out of 100), which is even better than the vaccine. Why not add the number of under-14-year-old citizens, who are as good as vaccinated, to the number of actually vaccinated (839,000) to get the number of people effectively vaccinated to 1,091,000, which yields 77% of the state’s population protected by a vaccine or natural resistance?

The majority of kids under 14 can’t get the vaccine, but the facts show they are as good as vaccinated, so haven’t we exceeded the state’s 70% goal of being protected from COVID-19?

Tom Koenig



It could take a long time to reach 70% threshold

Our ever-cautious governor has really gone out on a limb! Reach 70% on vaccinations and he will graciously lift all restrictions. What if it takes six months or a year to hit 70%?

At 64 years old, maybe I should amend my funeral directive to include the style of mask for my viewing.

This is a ridiculous example of government overreach. The state will need another 260,000 residents vaccinated in order to reach the magic 70% statistic.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the remaining unvaccinated population has little interest in getting the shot. Why not an “either/or” criteria (e.g., either 70% or three weeks of an under-1% positivity rate)?

The governor and his staff need to give this issue more thought. Follow the science and come up with a plan that offers realistic hope.

Robert Lottie



Make driver’s licenses more secure for seniors

I agree that seniors seeking driver’s license renewals should not have do it in person; mail-in renewals would be safer and more convenient (“Less senior hardship with mail-in option,” Star-Advertiser, Letters, June 6). But I would like to add that the mail-in option needs some work.

I needed to renew my two-year license before expiration last month, so I mailed my application in late March. In late April, my $10 check for the renewal fee was cashed. Last week, after waiting for more than two months, I finally called DMV and was told to pick up a temporary license because they could not find any record of what happened to my license.

I still don’t know what happened to my renewed license. Now I’m concerned that someone got hold of it and knows my home address, which is required to be printed on the license.

Drivers should have the option of having their mailing address (like a P.O. box) printed on licenses. The city’s database should have the street address available to police officers.

Ray Tabata



Doctors need higher reimbursement rate

The television news said Hawaii’s doctor shortage has reached “crisis levels.”

As a physician in Hawaii, I have witnessed this steadily since 1983. In short, the cause is HMSA. During this time, it has steadily lowered physician reimbursements as much as possible. Although we have the highest cost of living by far, physicians are paid significantly lower than HMSA/Blue Cross pays in other states.

This cannot be denied and will hopefully be recognized. Because of its market dominance, HMSA has been able to do this not only with private pay, but even limiting workers’ compensation reimbursement.

The result has been predictable: Physicians move away. Even locally trained physicians choose not to come back to Hawaii. The difference in lifestyle and reimbursement is that great. The solution is equally simple, but unfortunately unlikely.

Ronald Kienitz



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