How do you think our state and city governments have been handling the COVID-19 crisis? What could they be doing better?

Honolulu mayor Kirk Caldwell updates the public on COVID-19 at a
news conference in Gov. David Ige’s office.
– Courtesy of Honolulu Star Advertiser.

I think the state and city government have been handling the COVID-19 crisis pretty well. I like that wearing a mask is mandatory because in a lot of other states in the U.S., it is only optional. Although it is boring to stay home, I do appreciate it when they have lockdowns to keep numbers down (closing the parks, malls and beaches). On the other hand, instead of opening, closing and re-opening, I prefer that they don’t go back and forth on their decision making. I also think that they should not have opened the tourist industry back up for out-of-state people. I am fine with residents of Hawai‘i because it appears that they are more familiar with the rules and I do not necessarily want families separated. 

– Shyanne Macariola

Personally I believe that our state could have handled the COVID crisis better especially after the whistle blower case where the public found out that a party was being held and that is why there was a COVID scare amongst the heads of our state. It would be better if our government prioritized local lives over tourism and our already doomed economy. Hawai‘i needs to learn how to be self-sufficient and not rely so heavily on the mainland.

– Kennedy Flores

I think our state and government is handling the COVID-19 crisis the best they can. This pandemic has got everyone stumped, and given the current situations it is really hard to know what decisions to make. The government basically has to choose between saving the economy and stopping the spread of the virus. This is not a win-win situation because opening up public spaces and businesses will most likely cause a spike of cases, and if they choose to close all public spaces and businesses then the economy will deplenish. So far, what they’ve been doing has logical reasoning. However, some of the restricting rules that were implemented didn’t make sense, and to me,  are unnecessary and unsafe. For instance, you can’t go hiking or to the beach with members of your household. Even though you’re exposed to those people 24/7. That just didn’t make sense to me. I think it has more to do with the people than the government. I think people need to realize the importance of wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance from others. The government can continue to make restrictions, but it’s up to the people to actually follow these rules. 

– Mia Uyemura

I think that our state has not been doing a good job at handling the COVID-19 crisis. The reason for this is because many businesses are struggling to survive with the new restrictions that our state has put into effect. Also, with the outrageous unemployment rate, the state is doing a terrible job dispersing UI insurance. I myself was furloughed from work for three weeks, and it took the state three months to disperse my UI insurance. Also, I feel like the communication between the government and the people is bad. For example with the city’s new tier one rule, restaurants are allowed to open, but supposedly only to those who live in the same households. I have been seeing lots of my friends on social media going out to restaurants with their friends who don’t live with them, while on the other hand when I tried to make reservations with my girlfriend at Ichiriki and they told me that they couldn’t because we don’t live in the same household. That lack of communication and clarification between the city and the people is causing a lot of confusion. Furthermore, I feel that the state was rushed to open back up after the first shutdown, which led to people starting to panic and there was a lot of uncertainty how the state would handle it the second time. So far we have been doing better with the cases dropping to double digits throughout September and October, but we need to be on guard for a potential third surge of the virus once flu season comes around and intertwines with COVID.

– Sheldon Hu

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, I feel that the government has not been handling the crisis well. One reason for this is that our government has not been allowing certain businesses to open, this is causing them to suffer and resulting in closures. I think that the government should implement programs for businesses that are close to shutting down for good, where these programs can give them funding with business education that can help them strategize better solutions for income. I also feel that our unemployment rate has been super high and our government is having difficulties with finding new sources of jobs for those who are in need of finding a job. Also the unemployment funds have been delayed due to the state not hiring and training their staff properly for the claims process. As a result, many people in the state of Hawai‘i are jobless and still waiting on receiving unemployment benefits. It is sad to hear that some families don’t know what lies in their future, and I hope that the state will be able to offer more resources for these people. Shortly after the pandemic started, I myself have been out of work due to my restaurant temporarily closing. It has been a strange and new experience, but I’m thankful that I’m receiving unemployment benefits in the meantime. However, I hope that I will still be able to have a job at my restaurant if they are able to survive this pandemic. 

– Brenda Nekonishi

I think our state and city governments have not done the best job at handling the COVID-19 crisis. I say this because there are tons of other cities or even countries around the world that are currently down to either zero or close to zero cases, while our little island state has over a hundred new cases every day. When the COVID-19 crisis first hit the U.S., I thought that our state was handling the situation pretty well. But after our first government mandated lockdown, cases were not down to a number low enough where going out and coming in physical contact with others should have been allowed. Even now, they are starting to lift the bans on social activities, opening spaces to the public, and allowing people to hang out in groups, all things I think should still not be happening. Many people are afraid that completely shutting down the state will hurt the economy too much, but to me, risking people’s lives just to save the economy makes no sense. The economy can work its way back from falling but you cannot bring a dead person back to life. Currently, it is still unsure when a vaccine will be available, and I do not think that our government should be relying on a possible vaccine and instead should be doing everything that it can to bring the number of cases we have to zero.

– Cheung-Ming Cheng-Leever 

The state and city and county of Honolulu have been poorly handling the COVID-19 crisis. When the state first shut down in March, we had the lowest cases compared with the cases on the continent. But as the months progressed and we slowly started to reopen the state again, the COVID-19 cases started to exponentially grow to the point where we had to do a second shutdown. This is most likely due to the lack of clear communication with the state. For example, if we look at how New Zealand handled the crisis, they had zero cases for 100 days. But once a couple cases appeared, they sent out an emergency alert on everyone’s phones and told everyone to stay home. And all the non-essential businesses were shut down temporarily until they could track the COVID cluster and all the cases were good. However, this did not happen in Hawai‘i. People here were so concerned about the economy that they continued to open Hawai‘i. It stayed open only until the number of cases were in the triple digits and we had to do a second shutdown. Also, there were absurd restrictions that were in effect during a small period. People were allowed to go to the water park, gym, and dine-in restaurants, but were not allowed to go on hiking trails and to the beach. This didn’t make sense since the trails and beach were out in the open. Funding from the federal government was allocated to the state for contact tracers, yet when Rep. Tulsi Gabbard investigated and she only found a few of them. There have been many incidents where tourists have been getting away with breaking mandatory quarantine. As a result of the poor logistics that have occurred, our economy looks far from recovering at this point, kupuna are dying from COVID almost every day, and everyone’s mental health has gone downhill. It seems like the state and city government are putting profit over the health of the people, since they are all pushing to open the state for tourism.

– Alex Vo