Looking Past The First Wave

Aloha, Even though my articles are supposed to be about water safety, my summer piece was mostly about the covid challenge. Well, covid is still very much with us and my autumn piece will similarly be mostly covid related. 

We got through the “first wave” with an A for covid containment and with an F for economic health. It would be nice to sail along forever with our A in our pocket, but we won’t be able to survive. We have to address the F, which basically means we have to open back up to tourism, the pre-covid lifeblood of our economy. Actually, tourists have been allowed to come to Kauai, but only if they “quarantined” for 14 days. This restriction obviously has been a huge turn-off to would be visitors, who aren’t attracted to coming to a beautiful island only to be locked into a hotel room for 2 weeks. The quarantining has also caused unpleasant Aloha problems, when residents spot tourists who are obviously flaunting the very-hard-to-enforce quarantine requirement. 

As I write, the new plan — issued by Governor Ige — is for visitors to arrive and to freely roam around to all our beautiful sites, assuming they can demonstrate that they had a negative covid test within a couple of days of their departure from their home. Although we all very much hope that this plan will keep covid introduction to Kauai to a minimum, it is very much to be determined whether or not this will be the case. If, God forbid, visitor virus introduction followed by community virus spread starts to threaten our peoples’ physical health — then adjustments in the plan will have to
be considered. 

I could be a pessimist if I wanted but I don’t want to dwell on possible worst-case scenarios. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and our hopes up that our economy can get restarted and that we can be safe. 

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and our hopes up that our economy can get restarted and that we can be safe.

Best case scenario of course will be if this physical-health covid threat remains controllable and our hotels get filled up again and our people will be employed again in all aspects of the “visitor industry”, large and small. Then…Beach and ocean safety will again come to the forefront. I have to confess that I have enjoyed the decrease in road traffic and in beach congestion since the tourism restriction, but unless we all become the best truck farmers this side of Bhutan, we won’t be able to pay our rents and our mortgages and our utility bills and for our food on our tables unless we open up. 

Our long term statistics have shown that tourists suffer 75% of Kauai’s drownings and you could say that the best way to reduce our drowning rate by 75% would be to not have tourists, (and not surprisingly our “drowning numbers” are markedly down this year). 

But…We’ve already reviewed that untenable option. 

So, assuming our best case scenario, our Lifeguards will be back to full bore. Any thought of relatively quiet shifts at Nukumoi Tower or at the Hanalei Towers will be ancient history, unless it’s a pouring rainy day. I need to note that, with tourism so drastically down, the ER that I work in has been much less busy than it was pre-covid. This might be seen as a bit surprising, since many of us have heard about the nightmare conditions in NYC and other ER’s. But remember, we got an A in covid containment and we were spared that nightmare, in addition to having fewer visitors getting tumbled in the surf (or worse), or falling on hiking trails, etc. 

Back to our Lifeguards: We love you, we need you, and we wish you Godspeed as you crank all the way back up. 

To our Kauaians; Godspeed also, as we face our upcoming new challenge and as we try to move forward from our past ones.

And to our Visitors: Please enjoy our island, please help us Malama our island, and please swim near a Lifeguard.