Danny De Gracia: Our Turtle Model Of Governance Falls Short Against Covid - Honolulu Civil Beat


About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


It’s official: Hawaii is now a red state. And when I say “red,” I mean we are red hot with the worst breakout of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began.

Now, I get frantic emails all the time from people telling me it’s a good thing that Covid is spreading like a wildfire through our communities, because that means the pandemic will end that much faster. Yeah, you guys keep telling yourself that, because there are plenty of letters left in the Greek alphabet to name new strains after.

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Every “infect everyone as the cure” epidemiologist wants to be the Dr. Thomas Schelling of Covid, that is, until their close friends die of the disease, or their family members suffer permanent health damage. In my case, I’ve seen both happen to my loved ones, so I know all too well what this disease can do if not properly handled.

And no, I don’t want to see your so-called “suppressed information” or “banned therapies,” because I’m discerning enough to know that on both sides of the Covid debate, there is so much politicization, monetization and disinformation that you must always test the spirits to see if they are true or not.

When people ask me who I trust in this pandemic, I tell them I trust no one. One side wants you to calm down so you’ll keep spending as much money as possible until the day you die to boost profits and revenue collections, and another side wants you to be ungovernable so you’ll buy their vitamin supplements, political books, and vote for their contrarians in 2022. That’s a hard pass for me.

We need to rethink our strategy. As the omicron variant of Covid now accounts for 73% of all new positive cases in the United States, and as Hawaii sees daily case numbers that are horrific given our small population size, we are in a bad place right now.

Suffice it to say, listening to President Joe Biden’s press conference last week on Covid gives me no confidence in the way things are going to go for us here in Hawaii. The cacophony of state and local press conferences on Oahu’s outrageous case count last week were also all equally disastrous to behold.

All their messages sound the same to me: “Don’t worry – if you’re vaccinated. But then again, you’ll probably get omicron, even if you are vaccinated, but it won’t be that bad. Oh, and use personal responsibility. Choices! We’re all about choice.”

Maui Grand Wailea
Hawaii needs to do more than just encourage people to get vaccinated. Ludwig Laab/Civil Beat/2021

Excuse me? I love how every year, we pay billions in hard-earned taxes to run some of the most massive public safety and regulatory bureaucracies at the county, state and federal levels of government, but when it actually comes to a crisis that requires their help, now they all want to be free marketeers who believe in personal choice and can’t do anything.

Our expensive, nanny state Hawaii government wants to protect me from myself every other day of the year, but now on Covid, they fold.

With great power comes great responsibility. We do have a personal responsibility to protect ourselves, but local government has an even greater responsibility to protect us when things are beyond our individual control.

While it is true that if you don’t feel safe, you should stay home, if we allow this virus to spread so much, it won’t be long until the disease finds even those who are staying at home. The more people this disease infects, the more opportunities the disease has to develop adaptations to evade our screening or resist our treatments – that’s called natural selection.

The “get vaccinated, get boosted, and if you do get sick, that’s okay, too” line our government is pushing is just not going to cut it.

The more people get sick, the greater chance there is that in the future we will have many individuals who suffer from debilitating long-term chronic diseases. You’ll also have fully vaccinated elderly, diabetics, persons with heart conditions, and the immunocompromised who are doing everything they can to stay safe but will be caught off-guard at some point – at no fault of their own – by a future, stronger strain, and may succumb to it.

Flexibility and initiative is needed right now to break the surge.

To begin, Honolulu government needs to send home any city workers that aren’t providing face-to-face customer service to telework. If Honolulu is seeing a surge, then the city needs to worry about continuity of government. Save your city workers, they’re vital to running this city, don’t let them get sick or die.

Next, the Legislature needs to come out of its cave and call an emergency special session to drum up bills to deal with the Covid surge. I get it that they like doing nothing so that they can place blame for everything on Gov. David Ige, but the turtle model of governance is getting old. If laws have to be enacted to take the place of emergency governance, then do it.

I’m reminded of a curt yet memorable letter U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Curtis LeMay once sent in July 1949 to a Maj. Gen. Emmett O’Donnell, commander of the 15th Air Force, when a surge of plane crashes occurred. LeMay wrote, “In June Strategic Air Command had fourteen accidents. Eleven of the fourteen were in the Fifteenth Air Force. Do something.”

I say the same thing to our Honolulu leaders now. Covid is disproportionately hitting Oahu and cases are out of control. Do something.


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About the Author

Danny de Gracia

Danny de Gracia is a resident of Waipahu, a political scientist and an ordained minister. Opinions are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Civil Beat's views. You can reach him by email at dgracia@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @ddg2cb.


Latest Comments (0)

It truly is a relief to know that now, after two years of having our individual daily lives controlled pretty much by Executive Orders (the most in one year by any president) and not by elected representatives in congress, more decisions directly affecting our own lives will now be allowed to be made more close to home.  Hopefully our local government leaders will feel more accountable to the people in Hawaii rather than to the political leaders in Washington D.C.

GamE · 2 weeks ago

"Look, there is no federal solution," Biden now says.Virus mitigation is now to be solved on a state level according to the White House.Hopefully this decentralization will continue and the emphasis will be on personal responsibility because non-sterilizing vaccines have failed in stopping a mutating virus, and the Fed Government has now accepted this fact.

Joseppi · 2 weeks ago

The choices we as a civilization are facing today remind me of a medical study that came out about 15 years ago in the United Kingdom. Whisky consumption reduces the lifespan of an average Scottish man by 5 years, screamed the headlines. Life without whisky would not be worth living, responded the average Scottish man. Over the past 22 months, we made tremendous sacrifices in hopes of making the COVID-19 pandemic end sooner and with a lower toll on public health. By some measures, we have been quite successful; by others, not so much. One thing is certain: no one really knows what the pandemic endgame and life after the pandemic would look like. Most importantly, would the "new normal" be worth living anywhere as much as the life before COVID-19 was?

Chiquita · 2 weeks ago

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