When It Comes To COVID, Am I Missing Something? - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Galen Y.K. Chock

Galen Y.K. Chock, M.D., is a primary care pediatrician in Honolulu.

The June 19 Honolulu Star-Advertiser headline was “Virus Cases Jump By 18.”

“The infections spike was expected and will not stall restarting the economy,” the article said. “Hawaii’s daily COVID-19 case count rose to 18 cases Thursday, but official say the spike was expected and hasn’t reached a threshold that would delay reopening for the state’s local economy or interfere with planning to restart Hawaii tourism.”

Does it sound like the state officials are being complacent about the recent rise in community acquired cases of COVID-19 infection?

Yes, it is reassuring to be told that our local health systems have more than enough intensive care beds and ventilators to comfortably handle patients with COVID-19 infection. But do you want to be the one to occupy that bed or use that ventilator?

Is the true trade-off more COVID-19 cases in order to open up the economy?

Is the only response to an increasing COVID-19 disease burden to lock the economy down?

Governor David Ige walks toward podium as Dr Bruce Anderson heads back to sit down during press conference held during COVID-19 pandemic. June 15, 2020
Have our officials — such as Dr. Bruce Anderson and Governor David Ige — responded correctly to the pandemic? Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Are the social distancing guidelines/orders — wear a mask covering mouth and nose when outside of the home, maintain six feet of separation from others, frequently wash one’s hands and stay at home if ill — the correct guidelines?

If they are the correct guidelines, then is the recent uptick in community-acquired COVID-19 due to individuals choosing to not follow those rules?

Why aren’t our counties and state officials proactively monitoring the businesses that are re-opening to ensure that they have in place and are implementing the correct social distancing guidelines?

Why? Why Not?

The Los Angeles County Department of Public health does: “Around 1,000 LA Restaurants Fail Coronavirus Safety Rules Compliance Test.”

Why don’t we issue social distancing, COVID-19 safety certification placards to businesses? Wouldn’t proactive monitoring allow re-opening of the economy and reduce the spread of COVID-19 at the same time?

Why hasn’t the state hardened its stance and public messaging to vigorously and proactively monitor and enforce the social distancing COVID-19 safety guidelines when folks are out in public? Wouldn’t that help reduce the number of community acquired COVID-19 infections?

Why doesn’t the state test all contacts of infected individuals (preventive testing) with viral testing swabs for SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid/antigen in order to identify active infection? Isn’t there an ample supply of testing material available in our state?

Why do we not have a “hotline” where citizens can report unhealthy behavior of individuals and establishments? Wouldn’t a KSSK posse for COVID-19 behavior alerts help keep everyone safe?

Why does our state not have a Department of Health law enforcement team that is tasked with being present in the community educating, reminding and enforcing social distancing rules?

Why, as a health primary care provider, do I have trouble sleeping at night and instead worry about keeping my patients, staff and myself healthy when patients need a health encounter?

Isn’t there an ample supply of testing material available in our state?

Why do I spend the extra dollars needed for personal protective equipment? Why do we do daily temperature and symptom checks before work each morning?

Why does my staff stay home whenever they don’t feel well? Why do we question every single patient before they are allowed to come to the office?

Why do we purposefully reduce the number of patients in our office at one time? Why do we offer secured texting, phone calls, and tele-health encounters instead of face to face visits?

Yet while we expend so much time and energy trying our best to tamp down this infectious disease, why do others do as they please and choose to skirt the rules? And why are they allowed to skirt the rules?

Isn’t there a lot more that our state should invest in and that we can all do to keep us moving forward despite the ongoing and long term threat of COVID-19 disease?

Am I missing something?

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About the Author

Galen Y.K. Chock

Galen Y.K. Chock, M.D., is a primary care pediatrician in Honolulu.

Latest Comments (0)

Why not make testing free and available to everyone?

KaiWahine · 1 year ago

You ask some very good questions.  We are in unchartered territory, and trying to balance health, people’s lives, and economics, when dealing with an "enemy" not fully characterized and without a treatment.  Rock and a hard place, complicated by human behavior and the permutations of same.  There are no great answers except to go slow, follow CDC guidelines, test / contact trace, and when the number of cases rise, back off, slow society, restrict activity.  The Chinese did some things right, and in part could due to their political structure.  I think comments like "we have enough ICU beds and respirators" (at the moment) are simplistic and facile, and sidestep the impact of the pandemic illness, death, destruction of health, and the implications for humanity.

Debby · 1 year ago

Thanks Doc.  All great questions.  Many of the commenters have raised the same points.So far, there is no one media outlet that has asked all the same questions to all the "leaders".  Many of the "leaders" that our "leaders" rely on for info were told to speak in generalities to ensure sufficient amounts wiggle room and spin action.I am in the open it up camp, btw.  We are creatures of adaptation.  Top of the food chain, by and large.  We will adapt.

Ranger_MC · 1 year ago

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