Kirk Caldwell’s Boo-Boos

We can all appreciate that managing the Covid pandemic on Oahu is mostly learning-as-we-go about something new, dangerous and not anticipated just 9 months ago. And there’s the worry that this novel coronavirus might mutate into yet another threat. Plus we’ll have the usual fall and winter ordinary flu season.

That said, there are some no-good-sense decisions incorporated in Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s latest emergency order. They could quickly be corrected if he were willing to own up to some hastily-made mistakes in it. But so far not a peep.

This “solo” thing was not well thought out. We’re not supposed to leave our houses except for essential things (including outdoor exercise) and then only alone. Caldwell’s reasoning seems to be that “solo” makes it easier for police to enforce against people congregating. They don’t have to do counts all the time the way they’d have to if the number were 5 or 10. And “solo” means less contact, which is good.

But. Solo just doesn’t work. We tend to walk with a friend or family member. Young children need a parent or supervisor with them in a park or on the beach. Every family member going solo isn’t practical. Neither is it always anti-Covid because we’re not solo in our houses. We are currently 3 in mine. Any one of us could get infected on an “essential” excursion and pass it on to the other 2. Be practical, Kirk.

He should set the gathering limit at 2 or 3, and permit one parent or supervisor to be accompanied by any children age 12 or younger. That’s pretty easy for the cops to handle on their park and beach patrols.

He should have encouraged special permits for 10-person exercise classes in the parks, with separation and masks.

He should have taken the big step: masks always required everywhere in public. Let the libertarians yell but cite them for violations.

He also shut down our YMCAs. That’s a shame because those are exercise havens for older people. The Y pools have been well managed against Covid by allowing only 5 lane-separated swimmers per hour and a disinfection session between each hour. The Ys also should have been permitted to run exercise or yoga classes for, say, 10 people at a time in rooms of a certain square footage and with acceptable natural ventilation and the required masks.

There was no real need to totally shut down dine-in restaurants. They could have been reduced to 25% of capacity with drop-curtains between tables, which many other cities have done. We’ve had more than 50 Oahu restaurants close permanently since the new order went into effect allowing takeout only.

I think bars are going to be a remembrance of things past. Bars are for social mingling not social distancing. So they’d need a plastic drop-curtain between each patron. Who’s going to patronize a place like that?

Some weird things in Caldwell’s latest order. Singing and wind instrument players can practice with less than 10 feet separation so long as the group has less than 10 persons. What, 9 persons cannot pass along the virus via voice and wind instruments at, say, two foot separations? But I can’t be walking and talking with my wife at a park!

Non-profits are called “covered businesses for the purpose of this Order.” Does “covered” mean they are essential or non-essential? Did I break the law by leaving my house to stay at the non-profit Uluniu Swimming Club cottage this past week in Laie?

Why is a bicycle supply store an essential service, but we can’t go to a furniture store to buy a bed? But I can go to a fabric store!  Taxis are allowed and I understand that, but can you imagine a more likely nesting place for Covid and with two or more strangers? Why is a private detective an essential service with a waiver?

Oh, and “All local, national and international film production, television production, streaming production and similar production may operate in the City…” Obviously except from the “solo” restrictions on the rest of us. That’s clearly a sop to a revenue source. It’s as much a Covid threat as any other sizable gathering of people — with or without wind instruments!

Again, this is a tough time requiring complicated decisions and there are bound to be a few bad, inadvertant or at least not good ones that slip through.

A good leader makes quick corrections.



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: Biafran War in Nigeria (1968) Vietnam War (1969-73), Iraq in 1991. George Foster Peabody Award for distinguished journalism for reporting in China. 2 Emmys for documentaries. Married to journalist Denby Fawcett; one daughter. Brett Jones, foreign service officer, State Department.

3 replies on “Kirk Caldwell’s Boo-Boos”

  1. It amazes me that I have to walk by myself but the UH football team continues to practice in large groups with no masks. While I can deal with my situation it’s simply not fair that some are allowed to violate the rules. What makes them special?

  2. At least he had a logical rationale for the solo rule, which BTW would’ve made just as much sense 2 weeks ago, and he was open and transparent about it. I’d rather have that than some of the other rules from him and from the state that don’t seem to be based on data that is readily available to us, the public.

    Fabric stores are essential businesses so people can buy fabric to make masks. Bike stores make sense as essential because biking is pretty much a solo activity, whether for transportation or exercise, and biking as transportation rather than bus or car reduces the likelihood of transmission (just ask LG about getting infected in a car).

  3. I agree with many of your suggestions on the current emergency order, especially everyone should wear a mask in public and at least two or three people should be allowed to go walking together.

    I sent an email to Mayor Caldwell and asked him to read your post from today. I really appreciate your posts, especially today’s post and the one from yesterday on the end-side terminus of the rail line. I hope government officials read your blog, but in case they do not, I’m glad to bring pertinent posts to their attention. I’m planning to send an email to certain government officials and possible officials-to-be to ask them to read your blog from yesterday or the Star Advertiser article to which you referred.

    In a previous post, you said ‘Speak up!’, and I agree!

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