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VOICES: COVID on Kaua‘i and your medical care providers

The undersigned medical care providers have spent much of our professional lives caring for the families of Kaua‘i. We are writing this letter to the Kaua‘i community and, in particular, to our first responders (especially firefighters and lifeguards) and to the parents of our school students. You have come to us for medical care for years, please trust us now as we face our greatest healthcare threat.

Our schools are at risk of closing due to the extremely contagious Delta variant. Our hospitals are in crisis – overloaded, overworked, and often not able to transfer critically ill people into the ICU because the beds are already filled. Imagine your loved one has a heart attack or critical injury but cannot get appropriate care.

Rationing of care is already occurring in other states and has started here with the difficulty in transferring to O‘ahu hospitals. It will get much worse if high rates of infection continue. The need to turn the tide on the pandemic and protect our community could not be more urgent, and collective action by the community is required to achieve this.

The science is clear – masking, good ventilation, vaccinating all eligible people, including eligible school children, and viral testing of students – will give us the best chance to keep our schools open, our students and families healthy, and the health care system fully functional.

Hundreds of first responders across the nation are dying from COVID. Their jobs put them at great risk of catching it. Household-like living arrangements at fire stations put firefighters at increased risk of spreading the virus to each other. The necessity to quarantine unvaccinated close contacts presents a major risk to the firefighting workforce overall. Frequently people who have been infected will not display symptoms at first (some never have any symptoms). First responders can pass it on to the vulnerable people they often take care of in life and death situations. It is urgent that our front-line care personnel are vaccinated to protect themselves, their families, and the community. To be clear, vaccinated people can spread the coronavirus too, but they catch it much less often and they are contagious for a much shorter time. Please note also, testing in schools (at least once a week if not twice) is important because the younger children are not yet eligible for the vaccine. Fortunately, the school testing is now a very gentle procedure.

Testing the unvaccinated first responders once a week still leaves first responders greater than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized or die from COVID, five times more likely to be infected1, and at least twice as likely to infect others than a vaccinated individual.

Anti-masking and anti-vaccine arguments are common, but they lack a credible scientific basis. Statewide, not only are most MDs and nurses vaccinated, but their eligible family members are as well. Nationwide, greater than 95% of physicians were vaccinated by early June and more are now. We are vaccinated and use masks because it is demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt to be the best way to keep ourselves, our loved ones, the patients we care for, and our community safe.

Fifteen hundred people are dying in the U.S. from COVID every day and 95% of those dying are unvaccinated. Please join us, please stop listening to the misleading information rampant on social media, get your vaccine, wear your masks, and encourage others to do the same. If you are a first responder or involved in the schools, you are our front lines. Please get vaccinated and have your eligible children vaccinated also.

With great Aloha,

Shannon Bianchi, M.D.

Wayne Burris, M.D.

Erin Carrington, PA-C

Graham Chelius, M.D.

Kapono Chong-Hanssen, M.D.

Anthony Clark, M.D.

Bridget Collins, M.D.

Robert Conrad, M.D.

Thomas del Ninno, M.D.

Michael Diamant, M.D.

Monty Downs, M.D.

Paul Esaki, M.D.

Lee Evslin, M.D.

Alana Goo-Frazier APRN NP-C

Dave Gregorius, D.O.

Amy Guyton, M.D.

Kevin Guyton, M.D.

Derek Johnson, D.O.

Michael Johnson, M.D.

Christopher Jordan, M.D.

Elaine Kubota, M.D.

Manon Kwon, M.D.

Teresa Lanier, M.D. PhD.

Jesse Lam, M.D.

Patrick Leaf, M.D.

Kapua Medeiros, M.D.

Luke Metzker, M.D.

Dana Michaan, PA-C

Candice Myhre, M.D.

Travis Parker, M.D.

Heidi Percell, M.D.

Mary Pixler, M.D.

Mathew Ruel, M.D.

Erik Schumacher, M.D.

Michael Schwartz, M.D.

Spencer Smith, M.D.

Warren Sparks, M.D.

Daniel Spicer, D.O.

Randi Taniguchi-Fu, M.D.

Rebecca Walker, M.D.

Robert Weiner, M.D.

Linda Weiner, M.D.

Eric Vaughan, M.D.
Source: The Garden Island

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