Any unbiased, non-epidemiologist person might come to the same conclusion I have: We’ve not done enough on some fronts to combat Covid-19; we’ve gone overboard with very marginal rules on other fronts; and not given enough attention to middle-road tactics which science and common sense say might tamp down this pandemic.

I appreciate that we don’t know everything yet about this new coronavirus. We’re still flying blind on things like acquired immunity, reliability of tests and the potential for an early vaccine.

But meanwhile, we should be doing more of what we know and less when it’s just guesswork.

Mandatory acceptable-type masks to keep coughs and sneezes to ourselves. Mandatory social distancing so whatever escapes our mouths and noses doesn’t land on somebody else.

Then there’s the great plan Kauai is implementing. Before you’re allowed on a plane to Hawaii you take one test. When you arrive here you go into mandatory 6-days of quarantine at a special quarantine hotel supervised by the county and paid for by the visitor. While you’re there, a second test because some tests give false negatives.

The rest of Hawaii hasn’t done this. It shied away from possible lawsuits about the mandatory testing. If we never did anything over which somebody might sue we’d never do anything! And we let visitors say “oh, sure, I’ll do voluntary quarantine” and then next day head out for some shopping and the beach. We could have impounded an airport hotel and enforced that 14-day stay on the visitor’s dime.

It was irresponsible to exempt all military people and their families without the state knowing exactly what surveillance they’d get by the service commanders.

Then there’s the overkill. McDonald’s Kahala (and maybe others) makes you come in one door and exit another. You don’t get Covid passing another masked person in a wide doorway. The Kaimuki YMCA (and maybe others) went overboard. Arrows tell you which direction to walk to use exercise machines. You come in the front door but leave by going all the way to the rear, outside by the pool, and then back down the parking lot to your car (or my moped). You don’t get Covid exiting by the nearest wide door.

And a bottle of disinfectant you use to wipe down an exercise machine can’t be used by anybody else until it is disinfected! The pool can’t be used until the lifeguard disinfects the aluminum rail people may touch as they use the steps into the water.

There’s no common sense in play, just guidelines from some parent organization that’s getting little guidance by the state or city. That’s the explanation I got.

Meanwhile, I still see cars packed with young people, all unmasked, going to some beach or park. Large gatherings of family and friends. Construction workmen and women at very close quarters and who, of course, wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a mask!

And now the bars are open and we all know how responsible barflies are.

And now Gov. Age is under pressure to re-open us to tourism because the retail shops, high-end restaurants and hotels are dying financially. He’ll say yes because he’s not going to doom the jobs of maybe 200,000 or even 250,000 people who depend on tourism.

We only have America’s lowest per 100,000 Covid infection rate because you can’t hop in your car and come here. The airport and airplane hassle (and infection danger) put most people off. But not if we say “We’re open for business. We’re the lowest infection rate. Come on out.” Not if the airlines offer cut-rate fares and the hotels cut-rate rooms.

I’d prefer we accepted a little more pain and created an infection-free “bubble” like New Zealand and Australia. Their initial pain was terrible but now they’ll host each other’s tourists. It helped that Australia’s states could legally close their borders and airports to all persons from other states with substantial infection rates. They don’t have the right of travel we put in the Articles of Confederation and then with these words in the 14th Amendment: “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”

Published by Bob Jones

Journalist since age 19. St. Petersburg Times, Noticias y Viajes in Madrid, Overseas Weekly in Frankfurt and Paris, the Louisville Courier- Journal, the Honolulu Advertiser, KGMB-TV, NBC News foreign correspondent in Africa and Southeast Asia, and MidWeek columnist. LL.B LaSalle University Law. 3 years in the U.S. Air Force. Covered: Vietnam War, Iraq #1 in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. Married to Denby Fawcett, one daughter. Brett Jones.

2 replies on “Our Uneven Attack Against Covid-19”

  1. Caution is best if you want to live! Yesterday, I stopped at Kalapawai Market in Kailua. I had to detour around a group, at least 10, of maskless locals talking story, to gain entry. I complained to the manager who said he had no authority, but he does, since they were on the Kalapawai property where masks are required. I disagree with your assessment of separate exits, and the arrows. These were good ideas. I see that businesses are already relaxing cart cleanings not that Longs cared. I am for strong to the point guide lines and enforcement.

  2. We should use our quarantine as a marketing tool– come vacation where we have the lowest infection rates in the country, thanks to our quarantine policy!!

    Then hotels can market different levels of quarantine packages, all featuring all meals delivered to rooms for 14 days, single-use keys, and nobody in the adjacent rooms; even in quarantine, rooms with balconies offer tourists a chance to enjoy the tropical breezes. Open air trolleys can safely take the tourists from the airport to their hotels.

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