Writing in the time of COVID-19: Day One

Finally, there’s sun. So much sun. Its rays are blinding me where I’m sitting on the lanai. So much sun that the long shadows of palm trees are being cast across my yard. So much sun I want to get up, get out, and do something. Oh, wait, we’re sheltering in place.

Honestly, sheltering in place was easier when it was raining.

And just like that a cloud passes over the sun, over my eagerness, and I give Lulu a pet and gaze at the books that are supposed to hold me over for the next few weeks. There’s Jane Hirshfield’s new Ledger. There’s Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations. Peg Alford Russell’s A Girl Goes into the Forest. Jennifer Militello’s Knock Wood. At bedtime, there’s Peter Heller’s River.

The sun’s back out, and Lulu’s sun-baking. Things are changing rapidly these days.

IMG_8589.JPGOne of the many downsides to COVID-19 and sheltering in place is my increased screen time. I find myself scrolling through social media more. I could be reading one of my many books. Instead, I check Facebook for news, local and national. Have Laura’s test results come back yet? Has our governor instituted a 14-day quarantine for incoming travelers yet?

I scroll and scroll and, look, a new email just rolled in: there are now 11 new cases in Hawaii since yesterday, bringing our statewide tally to 48. Cases on Kauai stayed steady at three.

Dad called earlier. He’d heard Hawaii was under quarantine. Had there been a major spike in cases, he asked.

I keep checking my phone for updates. Nicki posted a news clip with Lt. Governor Dr. Josh Green, stating we will be closing all travel to Hawaii, barring essential travelers. But it hasn’t quite happened yet. There’s a press conference expected later.

Another reason I’m keeping the phone handy today: We had to take the (new-to-me) car to the dealership this morning. The battery was dead and a warning flashed across the dashboard that read: Hybrid System Malfunction. Visit your dealer. When we got there, the dealer was wearing gloves. A customer service representative asked me whether we had traveled outside Hawaii within the last 14 days.

In January, 113,847 visitors landed on Kauai, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority. We have a resident population of 72,000. Per our lieutenant governor, Kauai medical resources amount to 111 licensed beds, 9 ICU beds, and 18 ventilators. That’s a paltry few resources in a pandemic. Hence, the call for a quarantine, the call to limit travelers to Hawaii—travelers who are taking their long-planned and long-awaited trip to Hawaii who may have been infected and aren’t showing symptoms yet, travelers who are taking advantage of recent low airfares and bargain-basement hotel rates and planning to ride out the virus in paradise.

Lulu doesn’t understand shelter in place. She wants to go for her daily exercise. Our neighborhood walks are usually pretty quiet. A few cars may pass but, rarely, people. This time, though, there’s practically a stream of people where our road ends at the beach. We don’t stay.

By the time we get home, our governor’s issued the expected quarantine, effective Thursday. But it’s not much of one, doesn’t have teeth. There are no health checks are the airport. Returning residents are asked to quarantine at home. Visitors are asked to quarantine at their hotel. It’s like the fruit stand down the street. Both it and the quarantine are relying on people to do the right thing. But if they were doing the right thing to begin with—and sheltered in place—we wouldn’t need the quarantine. Or am I missing something?

Oh, hey, look, our mayor has just enacted Emergency Rule #4 to further require social distancing at county beach parks. Permits for county beach park usage are required for non-residents beginning March 23rd. Permitees will be charged $5 per person, regardless of age. The max number of permits issued will be 100 islandwide. Additionally, a parking fee of $50 will be required. Permits can be obtained through Eventbrite.

My phone just pinged. It was a text message from the U.S. Geological Survey. The gage height of the Hanalei River has topped 6.36 feet. I would imagine that means the road will close soon. As my friend Maka`ala likes to say, “Be on the right side.”

She means if you’re out and about, don’t get stuck on the wrong side of the river before the road closes. In today’s world, “Be on the right side” can extend to history. Be on the right side of history. It’s easy. Stay home.

And read.

Be well.

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Roberta Weil says:

    Hi Kim Very interesting. Well done Have you tried walking on Kalalela view road. Not too many people there, for sure. Stay well. ❤️💕♥️



    1. Kim Steutermann Rogers says:

      We do. But sometimes Lulu takes us straight. You never know where she’ll decide she wants to go!


  2. Nicki says:

    So sorry that Dr Josh Green got overruled. We are at the mercy of
    self quarantine & good judgement at the moment.
    Thanks for the reflections & some reading recommendations if only I could break my recently acquired social media addiction


  3. Connie Bishop says:

    Hey, Kim,

    Glad to see a blog from you!

    Even paradise has self isolation and social distancing! So very sad and worrisome on so many fields!

    The boys and I beat the boredom by going for daily walks around the block, 1.25! So far, we dont encounter anyone, thank God! I know that you feel even more secluded from your outings with people around! I guess people walk in Hawaii, they sure don’t in Riverview! Lol!

    I went for my WM grocery puck up yesterday and was appalled at the number of people on the road. Parking lots were empty. Where were these people going?!

    Thank goodness that Jeff and Michelle live close by. He was out picking up grocery items for their house and called me to see if I needed anything. I had him pick up some perishable things for me. We’re anticipating total “stay at home order” to be declared on Tuesday. With what I have, I’ll be good for a few weeks! I know that grocery stores and pharmacies are essential and we’ll be able to go there.

    Continue to do your part for mankind and self preservation as i’ll be doing the same in sunny Florida! I saw where Lawrence was 31* yesterday! So glad for sunny warm days, at least we can get out and enjoy the sunshine and the pollen!

    My love to you and Eric!

    On Sun, Mar 22, 2020, 12:38 AM Kim Steutermann Rogers wrote:

    > Kim Steutermann Rogers posted: “Finally, there’s sun. So much sun. Its > rays are blinding me where I’m sitting on the lanai. So much sun that the > long shadows of palm trees are being cast across my yard. So much sun I > want to get up, get out, and do something. Oh, wait, we’re sheltering ” >


  4. Louise Barnfield says:

    So good to hear from you, Kim, great thoughts as always! Stay safe, stay sane, my friend!😘


  5. Yep, I’m reading. Not doing a great job of writing but hoping to calm my monkey mind enough to do some soon. Yay books. And friends. Mwah!


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