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Letters for Sunday, October 11, 2020

It’s almost October 15

Mayor Kawakami, please consider:

If Governor Ige refuses your request for Kaua‘i to enact the four-tier system you propose rather than submit to the obviously-flawed plan for a single pre-travel test, or even an additional on-arrival at airport test — both of which are inadequate — please OPT OUT so that we stay with the mandated, 14-day quarantine for all persons arriving on Kaua‘i.

It is clear that the 14-day quarantine is working for us — zero cases on-island. And those few cases that Kaua‘i has had have all been travel-related.

Ige argues his opinion that the tourists will be “confused” if the islands have different requirements from each other. Seriously? Is this an acceptable justification for endangering the health and safety of the people of Hawai‘i?

There must be only one priority: the safety of residents, with no exceptions.

It must be clear to you that the residents, your constituents, of Kaua‘i, overwhelmingly approve of your astute and careful planning thus far. Please don’t change course. Please don’t give in. Stay strong.

I submit quotes attributed to YOU in the June 23, issue of Civil Beat:

• “ … stands by his strict policies to protect the health of Kaua‘i residents;”

• “ … There’s no do-overs in this situation.” “There’s no, ‘Oops, we made a mistake. Now we can go and fix it;’”

• “ … we’ve been focused on, not so much on making people happy but on keeping people safe.”

Please, mayor, follow your conscience.

With aloha and appreciation;

Judy Rachap, Koloa

There are tactics we can use

It is no secret that Kaua‘i may be on the verge of a major COVID-19 outbreak if the island opens to tourism on Oct. 15 with a single test and no quarantine. People I’ve spoken to feel helpless, vulnerable and confused. On the other hand, everyone feels great sympathy for those who are suffering from job losses.

What can we do?

We need a game plan, if the island opens, that tempers the effects of visitors. And here is a start:

• Call or write the mayor’s and the governor’s office and let them know what you are thinking and feeling;

• If you have friends or relatives visiting, ask them to please, please self-quarantine for at least three days after they arrive and get a test after they complete their quarantine. People who are in the same household should also quarantine. Not easy, but better than rapid spread;

• Ask visitors to wear masks and keep a respectable distance from others;

• Mention before they get here that they may not find the usual aloha spirit from the residents that they expect because of the prevalence of fear;

• Let tourists know that some expected services, especially those that require close contact, i.e. salons, massage therapists and some businesses, may be unavailable to them.

Whatever we do, let’s do it with respect.

David Dinner, Kilauea

February visitor worried, too

I am planning on visiting Kaua‘i in February. We have been visiting for 30 years. I am concerned about the 72-hour-test requirement.

Our travel is 36 hours door to door. I may not get a test result in the other 36 hours and may cancel my trip if the time limit is not relaxed.

Does anyone have a solution for this problem?

John Newmyer, White Rock, New Mexico

Can’t agree more, Mr. Bekeart

Although I feel and agree that Dana Bekearts’s Oct. 8 letter, “My top 10 reasons not to open Kaua‘i to visitors,” had covered a lot or some of the things why we shouldn’t let visitors in, I’d like to add a bit more.

We don’t have to deal with those who won’t read, abide by the rules and regulations and signs posted, our parks, oceans, beaches and restrooms will stay cleaner, we won’t have to confront those nasty and mean remarks or listen to them telling us where to go when we inform them that whatever they were doing were wrong, no need to get upset when they park their cars however and whichever ways they feel they want to, our lookout views will be nicer, rescues will be minimal, and a lot more. I could go on and on, but I’m sure that TGI won’t allow me more space.

The only thing I disagree with Bekeart was about the loud shirts. I am a Filipino, and as our rights, I am entitled that luxurury. I love the loud, bright, colorful shirts. Other than that, his letter was great. Thank you, Dana Bekeart.

Ray Domingo, Lihu‘e

There is a scientific basis for second COVID-19 test

A single preflight COVID-19 (NAAT/PCR) test for tourists will not protect Hawai‘i from a major outbreak. A 10% random-testing program upon arrival is not adequate.

With only one test, using CDC data on mainland COVID-19 positivity rates, if one-third the number of domestic tourists normally expected to come to Kaua‘i, about 500 of them each month would be positive for COVID-19. The hospital system would be overwhelmed and the county would be forced to shut down. A second test a few days after arrival is essential.

Dr. Josh Green used assumptions that greatly underestimated the number of positive COVID-19 cases (one in a 1,000) that would be missed with a single preflight test. CDC has reported a current national COVID-19 positivity rate of 4.8% (48 in a 1,000). Since only a fraction of the U.S. population has been tested for COVID-19, this positivity rate must be assumed for those traveling to Hawai‘i.

It takes several days following COVID-19 exposure to show a positive result. Johns Hopkins University determined that on day four following exposure only 68% of people will test negative and 32% will test positive. By day seven to eight, 20% will test negative and 80% will be positive. Evaluations submitted to the Governor Ige’s office by University of Washington health scientists and Hawaiian doctors determined that a single preflight test would miss 30% to 40% of positive cases.

With only a single test there will be 450 to 600 people with COVID-19 arriving monthly to Kaua‘i from the mainland, assuming one-third the average number of domestic visitors (32,000 November through March), with 4.8% positivity, and 30% to 40% positive cases missed. Such numbers are unacceptable.

The average age for people visiting Kaua‘i is 52. CDC reported a hospitalization rate for COVID-19 cases of 7.4% for this age group, 6.8% for all age groups in Hawai‘i. Therefore, about 30 to 45 tourists arriving monthly could require hospitalization, not counting local people infected by tourists. Kaua‘i’s health system would be severely strained to handle such numbers. Several deaths per month would also be expected.

A second test performed within four to seven days after arrival would reduce the number of those hospitalized by about more than half, and better protect Kaua‘i residents. Mask-wearing and social distancing would still be needed. Kaua‘i can open up for tourism, but it must be done more thoughtfully than is currently proposed by the state.

Milton Clark, Ph.D., former professor of environmental and occupational health sciences, University of Illinois School of Public Health, Princeville

Steps needed to justify statistics

In order to clarify misgivings about the pandemic public-health policies, the powers that be need to do the following, in my opinion:

• Explain in detail why the PCR test accurately identifies the virus termed COVID-19. Just saying that it does is not enough. A detailed scientific explanation rooted in fact is fine with me. The word on the street is that the test is inaccurate because it tests for RNA sequencing that is present in many conditions;

• Explain in detail the actual procedures in determining the cause of death, to alleviate concerns that the statistics are inaccurate. A detailed list of procedures is fine with me;

• Explain in detail why state and local officials have not implemented policies less harmful to the economy, as enacted in certain other countries.

These are legitimate questions. Please don’t ignore the thinking, reasoning public in public-policy decision-making.

Molly Jones, Kealia

Second test, day of arrival, is a non-starter for this reader

It looks like as of this morning, we will soon have a “two-test” plan — a preflight test, and a second, same-day test at the airport upon arrival. This makes no sense.

The governor and lieutenant governor will say they gave us a two-test plan, as requested. And if we’re not careful they will declare, and the media will report, this a victory for those who want to open safely. But it is not.

It is a two-test plan, but with the second test on the exact same day as all those travelers who test at the airport before flying. So it does nothing to catch those infected just prior to travel, or in transit, which is the central point of a second test. It also gives us little data we can’t infer from the three months of data Alaska accumulated since they opened in June, with a now-failed plan that included a pre-flight test.

It is specifically designed to avoid having to quarantine anyone; and by testing the same day, to avoid detecting those early in their infection. It is also important to be very clear that Mayor Kawakami, whose work until now we likely all appreciate, has developed a tier system that won’t mandate quarantine until his island has more than 56 new active cases a week. And it should be noted that if we are not doing extensive surveillance testing that number will only be reached when there are far more than 56 active cases on the island. I hope you, the unions, various associations, and everyone else does not accept this false victory and gets the mayors and governor back to the table.

Otherwise, despite good intentions, the overwhelming scientific evidence shows we’ll soon be shutting back down, having caused far more harm than good with this compromised opening. A second test on the same day as arrival is a non-starter. You’ll be hard pressed to find an expert to tell you anything different. Only a shortened quarantine with an exit test closer to the seventh day has any chance of success. I, like you, wish it were otherwise.

Steve O’Neal, Kaua‘i

Defy the governor, give arrivals a 2nd test

I would like to know exactly what penalties could be imposed against our excellent mayor and our island if he defies the nonsensical, dangerous decision of the governor and lieutenant governor and imposes the second test on all who arrive here from the mainland as well as inter-island? What can they do to us? And perhaps if other mayors follow our example and refuse this ill-conceived decision, one that Dr. Fauci denounced, rather than the opt-out option offered by these two, it might sway them to recognize the horrible danger they are imposing on the people of Hawai‘i. Mahalo.

Candy McCaslin, Koloa
Source: The Garden Island

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