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.
One 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.