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LETTERS for the May 28 issue

By Staff | May 28, 2020

Make May 16 a new holiday?

Is it just me, or did last Saturday feel like the Fourth of July? Coming out of the darkness that was the Coronavirus and into the beautiful light of a magnificent Maui day, it was great to see the kids playing in the sand and frolicking in the waves.

With haoles turning red laying in the sun and locals grinding food, playing wonderful Hawaiian and Jawaiian music while enjoying a beer or two and simply talking story, all were having a great time. It was like the good ole times again. It was great to see, feel and experience.

Perhaps we could make this day, May 16, a local or state holiday. Perhaps name it Makana or Kama’aina Day to remember what we’ve just gone through and to celebrate that we live in beautiful Hawaii Nei – and are all blessed that we do!



Italy is reopening before Maui?

So, today we hear Venice is opening for business on June 3rd with no restrictions.

Let’s compare the Venito District to Maui:

Venito: 1,752 deaths to Maui’s six -nearly 30,000 percent more.

Venito Square Miles: 7,083 to Maui’s 727 – nearly ten times bigger.

Venito Population: 4.9 million to Maui’s 144,000 – nearly 34 times larger.

Who has the great risk exposure? Clearly Italy, not to mention the rest of their country.

Yet their leaders clearly understand what is really killing their community and future: the loss of jobs and businesses, not COVID-19.

Too bad we don’t have real leadership in Hawaii.



Starting over, let’s make life on Maui better

Starting over, let’s consider how to make life better than it was before COVID-19 with diversified industries, instant affordable housing and ways for hotels, restaurants and businesses to recover as quickly as possible.

Depending primarily on tourism and real estate development has been short-sighted. Strikes, terrorism, pandemics and economic downturns are some of many things directly affecting Hawaii’s economy. Though tourist numbers increased through the decades, the overall economic impact and quality of life decreased.

With potential for self-sufficiency, create sustainable employment while enhancing Hawaii’s tourism industry and protecting the environment. Develop forestry and agriculture for food, textiles, energy, and all kinds of products for local use, exports and souvenirs.

COVID-19 restrictions helped resolve traffic jams. Moving forward, reduce the number of rental cars proportionately to traffic impacts. Many tourist destinations around the world are car-less. Increasing shuttle transportation services and reliable public transit, people will adjust accordingly.

Using residences for vacation rentals is detrimental to the lodging industry. Return to the housing inventory condos and homes originally designated as residential. Though revenues may be less, long-term rental income is guaranteed. This increased housing helps stabilize the market.

Besides homes for residents, eliminating these short-term rentals will help increase occupancy of resorts, hotels and condominiums that were developed to accommodate visitors.

Considering hotel rooms lack kitchen facilities, going out to eat helps restaurants and businesses. Getting out, people shop and are enticed with tourist activities.

Though pandemic recovery presents challenges, it offers opportunities and hope for a beautiful and prosperous future.



Coronavirus driving switch to plant-based products

Massive slaughterhouse closures are driving U.S. consumers to plant-based meat products, as sick workers pay the price. Tyson Foods, JBS USA, and Smithfield Foods, the largest meat processors, have closed 17 plants, devastating rural communities and threatening the nation’s meat supply. Production is already down by 25 percent.

In reaction, U.S. sales of plant-based meats surged by 265 percent, according to consumer data group Nielsen. Shares of Beyond Meat, a prominent plant-based meat brand, rallied by 60 percent.

A Washington Post investigation found that Coronavirus outbreaks in more than 48 U.S. meat packing plants have sickened at least 3,300 workers and killed 17. The companies failed to provide adequate protective gear to the workers and forced some with COVID-19 symptoms to keep working.

USA Today reports that more than 150 of the U.S.’s largest plants operate in counties with the highest rate of Coronavirus infection.

In addition to the generally accepted consumer health argument for avoiding animal food products, the pandemic has now added the worker health element. Production of plant-based meats requires much less labor and allows for ample physical distancing.

We can all support the switch to healthy food on our next visit to our supermarket.



Gates unnecessary at Honokowai Park

Mahalo to the County of Maui Parks and Recreation Department and Mayor Victorino for opening Honokowai Park on Saturday, May 16. Park workers were out at 5:30 a.m. to take down the barricades that were used to close the parking lot, as the park has never had the yellow gates that most other parks have. They took them away.

At 8:30 a.m., they returned to put them back, so that at closing time, 7 p.m., the night crew and Parks Enforcement officers could put them back. Now to move five barricades chained together, you need a few people.

We didn’t have any gates for closing time before; why do we need them now? The police could just give tickets for vehicles parked after the park is closed.

Also, they could have waited until Monday to open the park instead of Saturday, but the workers did like the overtime.

There were over 100 people that used the park that day, so I guess the cost was needed.



Crack down on illegal rentals

What better time than now to crack down on illegal rentals on our island? Why?

Illegal rentals add more traffic to local neighborhoods and beach access public parking, and they bring constant strangers to residential neighborhoods.

The taxes from illegal rentals do not stay on the island. More illegal rentals means less housing availability for locals and a spiked increase in cost of rent because of the higher demand.

Also, illegal rentals attract lower quality spending tourists, which is the opposite of what type of tourist we are trying to attract for our economy.

The tourist that rents a car from the Turo app, then goes to Costco and right to their Airbnb does very little for our economy.

At King Kamehameha III Elementary School, over the last two years, the total student body has decreased over a 100 less students. What does that mean? Less funding and more job cuts. Because of less students, the school had to vote on which programs and teachers to cut.

Music, art and drama all got cut last year. What a shame for our keiki. Wouldn’t all those illegal rentals on the West Side be able to help keep more housing available and less rental gouging to our hardworking citizens?

Instead of building more “affordable housing” all over the West Side, which has its pros, let’s focus on the houses already built, so we can have a community where family comes first.

Let the tourists stay in Kaanapali and Kapalua, where they where originally meant to be placed.



Mahalo to employees in nursing facilities

On behalf of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), I’d like to thank all those who work in nursing facilities – doctors, nurses, food preparers, housekeepers and others – for their unwavering dedication to compassionately caring for the vulnerable residents who are relying on them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These facilities have been on the front lines of the pandemic, and our hearts are with all of those who have been affected by this virus and their families.

We at CMS share the goal of keeping nursing facility residents safe and healthy. Under President Trump’s leadership, we are using CMS’s regulatory authority to facilitate residents’ care and ensure that long-term care facilities have the guidance they need to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The best thing nursing facilities can do to keep residents and themselves safe is to ensure they’re following effective infection-control practices. These are outlined in our guidance and include recommendations that employees wash their hands properly; separate ill residents from well residents; use personal protective equipment correctly; get screened for illness; and stay home if they’re sick.

By employing effective infection control and prevention, coordinating with local and state health authorities, and showing patience and kindness to others, we can beat the virus, reopen America, and keep our nursing home residents safe and healthy.

SEEMA VERMA, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Washington, D.C.