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Letters for Friday, February 12, 2021

Our island should be cherished

Aloha. Wanted to thank Gary Hooser for his letter regarding the desecration of the land where the former Coco Palms sat. It is so sad not one of our political leaders cares to make it right. Tear it down, possibly put a cultural center there, or resurrect it back to its formal working condition. Apathy is a heartless thing, meaning “lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern.”

My opinion is we have way too much of it here on our small island. Our island should be cherished, loved and taken care of to the best of our ability. Many discussions have taken place over the years regarding the poisoning the Hawaiian islands by the pesticide companies. Yet they are still here.Why is this? We know what they are doing is very harmful to our ocean, land, air, and especially to our people.

We don’t just have one of these destructive companies, we have five just on our island, and they are operating on all of the Hawaiian islands. We are being treated like ignorant people who do not know how to take care of ourselves and our islands. We need strong voices and action to prevent the harm these companies are causing. Are you OK with the fact that these companies are producing chemicals that have been studied and are now known to cause multiple health problems? Is it OK for our future generations to have children with birth defects, cancer, heart disease, autism, asthma, miscarriage, premature births, spina bifida, to name a few? Why is no one standing up for our people? I’m going to be nauseous. Is it all for money? Young people with young families, you need to say something.

We have to protect ourselves since our political people aren’t. It is going to be very embarrassing when we are telling our future generations the story of the pesticide companies that used to be here. They are going to look up at us with their innocent faces and say, “you used to eat poison?”

Linda Bothe, Kalaheo

Plenty of benefits in HB565/SB830

An open letter to our representatives when considering HB565/SB830 regarding telework. These bills require each county to establish a telework and alternative-work-schedule policy.

The bills would allow employees to act as caregivers as they telework and have alternative-work schedules. Many workers cannot have alternative-work schedules, such as essential workers (nurses, physicians, grocery store workers, janitorial staff, etc.), but for those who can, the benefits of telework impact their lives and the lives of the community:

• Employers: Assuring a smaller carbon foot print, lowering real-estate costs, recruiting a competitive workforce since workers can work from anywhere and do not have to be based in a specific area, reducing absenteeism and turnover, which adds up to approximately $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year saved by employers;

• Employees: Employees will save $2,500 to $4,000 in reduced cost in travel, parking and food roughly 11 workdays per year in time spent commuting. Caregiving, lower child-care cost and caregiver cost while employed;

• Health advantages to both: Cleaner air with less commuting via bus, commuter trains or cars, which reduces pollution by 4%. Less stress, including the ability to manage triggers by staying away from germs and viruses causing illness in the workplace; less depression from things that impact the workday, such as demanding a boss or annoying coworkers; ability to do more physical activity, relax and eat better from home while being more productive for work.

• The new statistics include 48% of employees are likely to work remotely (38% before the pandemic);

• 50% of the U.S. workforce holds jobs that are compatible with at least partial telework;

• 33.4 million families (2/5ths of all families) include children under 18 years old who must be cared for (as of 2019);

• 65.7 million Americans (29% of adults in the U.S.) served as caregivers for ill or disabled relatives.

Women have disproportionately suffered pandemic-related job loss (53.9%) since February 2020. Ability to telework is seen as one of the benefits of a job, next to health care and flexible hours, to promote a better work-life balance while promoting a better balance to employers and employees.

Passage of these bills would benefit the worker, the employer and the community.

Beverley D. Tobias, Kapa‘a

A COVID vaccine mahalo

My husband and I had our first COVID shots at Mahelona on Jan. 22. We want to compliment Mahelona and all involved in organizing the vaccines.

Mahelona staff and others created a VERY efficient process filled with aloha: At entrance to parking, a check list, then at the doorstep, told to sit on two chairs while our forms and consents were checked, then move to another place, more checking, then told to enter the building and be checked into the computer. Awesome, fast, very-friendly process. Shots, then directed to an area and led to two chairs. A kitchen timer device was placed at our feet: told we could leave when it rings at 15 minutes. Given clear instructions on second dose.

Best part: On the way out the door, three freshly-baked cookies and coffee, served with big smiles.

Not only did we leave feeling very relieved to finally get this protection process begun, we also felt very well-cared for.

Big MAHALO to the staff and all who organized this! Today, at Pono Market, I overheard one of the staff mention the vaccination effort, told her how impressed we were. She smiled and said she would tell the staff. I want to tell everyone.

Judie Fernandez, Kapa‘a

Make travel safer, cancel HB 1286

I agree with Dr. Lee Evslin, M.D., that Hawai‘i’s bill HB1286 is dangerous to health and the economy.

This bill will eliminate the possibility of Mayor Kawakami implementing a second COVID-19 test after tourists arrive. Currently, they need a pre-travel test, but can pick up COVID-19 on the airplane or at the airports. A second COVID-19 test after traveling can reduce the spread of COVID by 30 to 40%, explains Dr. Evslin. Without our brilliant Mayor Kawakami implementing the second test because House Speaker Scott Saiki is blocking the mayor with HB1286, the spread of COVID-19 could accelerate on Kaua‘i, creating more fatalities and more financial destruction. House Speaker Saiki’s plan is the opposite of cost-effective; it is destructive for our economy.

No tourist will complain about getting a second test, which only takes a half hour at a clinic, because he or she knows it will contribute to the safety of all and thereby to a more prosperous economy.

My father, a Harvard-educated medical doctor, agrees with Dr. Lee Evslin. Let’s please convince House Speaker Scott Saiki to cancel HB1286 and really make travel much safer, cutting out the 30-to-40% higher spread rate from one pre-travel test by simply adding a cost-effective, second, post-travel COVID-19 test.

Will Davis, Lihu‘e

Letter to Dee Morikawa about HB1286

This is a reminder that you should be representing the people of Kaua‘i. As a cosponsor of HB1286, you are ignoring all the benefits of Mayor Kawakami’s approach in deciding how to strike a balance between public health and economic health. The results are impressive, compared to those on O‘ahu. Compare our results to Maui, which is following the state’s Safe Travels program, with problematic results, and you can understand our concern with HB1286.

Your support with the pressure from O‘ahu and its visitor industry is shameful and misguided. The so-called confusion to incoming visitors will benefit O‘ahu, where the state’s Safe Travels program is more relaxed, resulting in 50 to 100 new COVID-19 cases a day. For those visitors who are more concerned with exposure to COVID-19, and who do their homework, they will choose Kaua‘i, which has zero to one new cases a day. This is all the more important with the new variants of COVID-19 emerging, which may be resistant to the current vaccines.

If you take the time to read the op-ed article in the Sunday, Feb. 7, edition of The Garden Island, “Saiki’s travel-policy bill unsafe for Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i” by JoAnn Yukimura, Robert Weiner, M.D., and Chad K. Taniguchi, you will understand why HB1286 is a bad bill.

Will you represent Kaua‘i or O‘ahu on this? We are watching.

William Hackett and Yvette Bambas, Kalaheo
Source: The Garden Island

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