An open letter to our government leaders in Hawai‘i,
Dear Government leaders of Hawai‘i.
Over the past two to three weeks, you have made it very clear that the only thing that is going to save all of us from the COVID-19 virus is to shut down general society, force everyone to work and stay at home, and relegate the people to a very narrow band of options to even go outside.
You have passed proclamations, which have forced over 80,000 of Hawai‘i residents to file for unemployment, and shut down any semblance of normalcy in people’s lives. You have effectively shut down the ability for anyone to leave any of the islands (albeit I will say you’re keeping cargo moving – a lifeline that must be preserved at all cost).
I know this sounds like a brutal verdict of what government has done for the sake of keeping our healthcare system from being overwhelmed. But at the end of the day, this is what government has done.
And in response, instead of fighting the rules either through the courts or marching on the State Capitol with pitchforks and torches, the people have largely complied. In fact, many “essential” industries which could justify the need for everyone to be in their office, instead judiciously looked at their own operations to see if they can get more of their people to stay/work from home.
The people have done this, with many as noted above, doing it at great personal cost.
Now with compliance, the questions must pivot from the actions of the people to those of the government. Being that leaders at all levels literally was able to shut down our society and economy, what is government planning to do to restart it?
Trust me, I get it, we are just in the beginning of this “war” if you will over a virus. And that the actions taken so far was, unfortunately, necessary. But in the haste of shutting everything down, there is going to be a growing desire to see how we can both initiate a restart and how we will live with the virus. We need political leadership to figure out what the balance that we need to make, and initiate plans to both create that new balance, and get things back up and running.
Right now the people of Hawai‘i are being told that these rules will be in effect until April 30. For this writer, I agree with that assessment. However, the government needs to know that the clock is ticking – it has 36 days (from March 25th) to figure out how to ameliorate the situation so that the April 30 re-open date is firm.
Whether that means you have to get more supplies for our healthcare workers, convert public spaces like civic centers and the Hawai‘i Convention Center into alternative care areas, by all means, make it happen. I hear the Army Corps of Engineers has been tapped for this – good!
We’re burning daylight folks, make every day between now and April 30 count! Because the people of Hawai‘i are doing their job. Now we need for you, in government, to do yours.
Stanford J. Fichtman
Resident, Taxpayer and Voter in the State of Hawaii.