I’m with those such as my friend Vera, who’s very nervous about letting 10,000+ people a day into the state under the new pre-test-or-quarantine rules. But I know people need jobs, businesses need revenue, the state and the city need tax money and our Constitution (Article IV and the 14th Amendment) doesn’t allow any state to close its borders.

Still, we need to see how secondary testing of the pre-testers and adherence to the terms of quarantine work out. The latter sure did not work well. It was an invitation to cheat.

As visitors pour in there will be pressure to reopen the bars and nightclubs, which I consider to be Infection Centrals because they are not made for the social distancing kind of patrons. Masks will quickly come off, too.

I don’t know how Australia keeps its economy alive, but it is very strict and does not have a constitutional travel-right to hamper it. So it’s not letting people out or in, except in very limited situations. Not even the 20,000 or so citizens who were trapped outside when the no-come-back hit. My daughter’s a diplomat, so they are allowing her back in after her visit here. But a non-quarantined resident has to pick her up at the Sydney airport and drive her the 3 hours to Canberra. She’s not permitted to use public transportation and she goes into immediate 14-day quarantine when she’s back in Canberra.

New Zealand’s a toughie, too. Geography has helped. If any place could be described as socially distant it would be New Zealand, surrounded by ocean and with onlyAntarctica nearby. It only has 5 million people. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put the country under a strict lockdown in late March, when only about 100 people had tested positive for the virus. Her motto: “Go hard and go early.”

New Zealand has so far avoided a widespread outbreak, and new cases have dwindled from a peak of about 90 per day in early April to just five yesterday.  Only 13 people have died so far.

No masks, no distancing in this New Zealand election night photo this week.

We currently are averaging fewer than 100 cases per day and edging close to Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s terms for us to go to Tier 2, which allows more re-openings. I worry because when several European countries did the same, the virus came roaring back. Do you re-close again? People tend to get fed up with the restrictions and eventually rebel as in Michigan and some other states. Minimally, they stop wearing masks and avoiding groups. They say “to hell with this.”

So letting more people in and re-opening more businesses and recreation spots comes with some serious risk.

So does keeping everything closed and large numbers of people unemployed.

What’s the right call, and is it being based 100% on the science, or more like 50% that and 50% pressure to re-start the economy?

I tend to lean 100% science. But I’m basically retired, my wife and I have income and savings, no mortgage and very moderate expenses. So it’s easy for me to choose a side.

That’s why I ask: what’s the right call?

—30—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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3 Comments

  1. Move to Tasmania! They have NO cases . It is a spectacularly beautiful place with a vibrant economy. Hobart is a wonderful city, affordable housing and ocean setting. with some of the most varied and beautiful natural landscapes from Alpine skiing and beaches you have ever seen. Lots of fun creatures like wombats and Tasmanian devils and roos every where. I have a former EWC student I hosted for years living there now and she has me sold on the place! I’d swap a few wombats and rambunctious roos for 10,000 tourists a day any day!

  2. 30% of the COVID cases in Hawaii are Pacific Islanders who don’t have access to healthcare, don’t have computers, don’t know the language, often live a dozen to a room, work on the front line. Until that problem is solved, we’ll have COVID restrictions with us until we have a vaccine.

  3. Singapore has four times our state’s population but their daily case count is now a single digit. Back in April, it was more than 1,000 per day.
    Like Hawaii, Singapore is ethnically diverse and its economy has been fueled partly by tourism.
    But there are also differences. Singapore is located on the coast of Asia rather than the middle of the Pacific, and is a financial services and manufacturing powerhouse. It has strong leadership (some would say too strong), and an educated and disciplined population. Crime, corruption, drug addiction, and homelessness are virtually nil. Streets are safe, parks are clean, and roads are well-maintained despite much harsher weather conditions than Hawaii.
    It wasn’t always this way. There was poverty, squalor, and racial strife into the late 1960s. But things changed dramatically after that with firm but largely benevolent leadership that benefited the population.
    Hawaii is not Singapore. Or Vermont, or Japan, or Switzerland. The point is that things don’t have to stay the same.
    In Hawaii, we are becoming more class-stratified, our economy was far too dependent on tourism but was otherwise largely stagnant and has now been devastated, housing costs are ridiculous, homelessness has exploded, many of our streets are filthy, drug addiction is rampant, the mentally ill are left to fend for themselves in filth and depravity, and much of our population sneers at education and industry yet embraces crass consumerism and feels entitled to creature comforts. The rich just build more and higher gates, and order their food delivered.
    Covid is far from conquered. And our leadership is pathetic.
    Something has to change. Or we can put all our eggs in the same basket again, slouch forward, hate the tourists and telescopes, smoke another joint, and hope for the best.

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