Posted by: bj | April 28, 2020

It’s Safe to get Back to Work in Hawaii ! Evidence Coronavirus Peaked in Hawaii on Feb 5 – Governor Orders Stay at Home Order 6 weeks later on March 23.

It’s Safe to get Back to Work in Hawaii ! Evidence Coronavirus Peaked in Hawaii on Feb 5 – Governor Orders Stay at Home Order 6 weeks later on March 23.

Pacific Business News – Honolulu – Opinion Page April 24, 2020

Pupu platter 208: What, another month of shutdown?

Last week, I noted that that policymakers were drifting from “flattening the curve of ICU admissions” due to Covid-19 to “slowing or stopping the spread of the virus,” with some national figures opining we need to wait until there’s a vaccine for life to get back to normal.

Folks, that was a warning, not advice. Nevertheless, Mayor Kirk Caldwell on Tuesday extended the City & County of Honolulu stay-at-home order until May 31. And, as Pacific Business News reported, “He also noted that for society to fully return to the way things were before the coronavirus, a treatment or vaccine must be developed, which could take 18 months.”

Meanwhile, the Hawaii State House Select Committee on Covid-19 Economic and Financial Preparedness said on Monday it’ll have a reopening plan drafted in about two weeks. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Monday reported that this week, the group was to have sketched out plans “to support screening, testing, tracking and quarantining the population when benchmarks for reduced transmission of the novel coronavirus have been met.”

There it is again. Not flattening the curve. Reducing the transmission. And this timetable may be moot by the time you read this. Gov. David Ige, who had already said his stay-at-home order could be extended past April, will likely have followed Caldwell’s lead.

I have yet to hear a compelling argument for the shift, and I certainly have not heard anyone in power ask our permission. People might die? The bargain was, give up April so that no one’s cause of death would be “lack of an ICU bed.” It’s a radical change in plan to say no one should die of any given contagious disease at all.

The fact is, between Jan. 1 and April 4 in Hawaii 6,262 people died, and of these 394 died from pneumonia or influenza. Which ought to explode the “wait for a vaccine” argument, because 394 died despite there being vaccines for many flu strains. It’s an impossible standard to base society upon.

Perspective: If you drew a line representing the 1.4 million people who live in Hawaii; one inch long for every person:

  • the 12 COVID-19 fatalities would be one foot of it. 
  • The 394 flu fatalities would be 33 feet. 
  • The 586 people who have tested positive for coronavirus would be 49 feet.
  • The people who have died since Jan. 1 of anything would be 522 feet.
  • The rest of that line would be 22 miles long.
  • So far, three miles of that line is the unemployment line. But with another month to go now, that will grow.

Policymakers, you can’t hold us all prisoner indefinitely for the illusion that a risk-free life is possible or that it comes from you

Speaking of the House Select Committee, I don’t understand why weeks of planning are needed before reopening most local business. Per the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization report we’ve covered, 70% of our economy is Hawaii doing business with itself. Even if tourism remains dead for months, we could be doing much better if government would simply stop stopping us. Thousands of small businesses could reopen the minute they hear they won’t be arrested for doing so.

But, there will be clusters! We can’t have clusters! Look at those two McDonald’s on the Big Island!

Well, we don’t have such plans now and yet thousands of people statewide have been working and shopping in Safeway and Don Quijote and Costco and in the restaurants doing take-out since the shutdown began. Clearly, huge numbers of us mask-wearing, socially distant citizens can participate daily in even highly trafficked businesses, with clusters being rare exceptions. The irrational distinctions between what is deemed safe and what is not (beach walking deadly but grocery shopping OK!) are getting harder to take.

 

Don’t worry, you’ve got us all so frightened, people not only wear masks, they don’t even make eye contact anymore. Have you noticed that? It’s weird.

When did this really begin?

The Hawaii death tolls I mentioned come from the Hawaii Influenza/Respiratory Disease Surveillance Report Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, covering week 14 of the flu season, March 29 through April 4. Read it online here.

Something peculiar jumped out at me in the report. In week 4, ending Saturday, January 26, the percentage of hospital visits for “influenza like illnesses” departed from Hawaii’s historic norm over the past 10 years, at 4% of all hospital visits, and skyrocketed to a peak in week 8, ending February 8. Over that time, the percentage of hospital visits for “influenza like illnesses” doubled to 8%. Such hospital visits steadily declined through week 12, ending March 21, then plummeted with the stay-at-home order.

Something else peaks from weeks 4 through 8 — negative test results for known strains of the flu. Covid-19 testing began in week 10, ending March 8.  Now what could have sent twice as many people to the hospital than usual with symptoms of the flu that weren’t the flu? What weren’t we looking for at that time?

Have authorities considered that this thing had actually peaked at the beginning of February? Gov. Ige issued his stay-at-home order March 23. Given Hawaii’s international travel prior to that time, is it so unlikely that we already had this in circulation? Antibody testing would be the way to estimate how many people have already had Covid-19 and recovered. I think this is worth looking into. If this virus was more widespread than we knew, therefore less deadly than we thought, immunity more widespread than we guess, all the more reason to feel safe about getting back to work.


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