My June Commentary on Trump and the Pandemic, Masks, and Hawaii Tourism
by Panos Prevedouros PhD, Fix Oahu, June 26, 2020
The late June Covid-19 situation in AZ, FL and TX (see 1) is a second chance for Trump to re-set his stance on the pandemic, for a chance to win. Or he can double down on absurdities and toast himself... because he isn't losing thanks to Biden's abilities and platform.
A consistent, transparent and measured response to the virus will do it:
Promote open air activities,
Use masks in crowded environs, and
Educate people with Covid-19 pre-conditions to avoid crowded indoor environments (even with family and friends.)
The anti-mask rhetoric has become absurd: We all know that decades of use of masks by doctors, nurses and the Japanese did not asphyxiate them, and did not turn them into communist peons or face covering Muslims. Relax and protect yourself. Remember the virus loves a crowd and gets to you via the nose or mouth.
Use your common sense. For example, my common sense says to use the mask inside a Costco or any supermarket because some isles are crowded and usually someone will cough or sneeze during the time I am there. My common sense says to pass on using the mask at Costco gas or any gas station. It's open air, I'm there for 2-3 minutes only, and typically there's nobody near me.
It doesn't matter much what rules Hawaii will establish for tourism... Given the anti business mindset of the people in charge, Hawaii will make itself even less attractive than other sunny places, thus prolonging its economic misery.
The facts are these: (1) airport travel volume is around 10% compared to 2019, (2) no large hotels will open to operate at 10% capacity and at nearly 100% cost, and (3) marketing Hawaii as a safe destination makes little sense since it involves a 12 or 17 hour round trip in an airplane from California or Japan; this is a much higher risk than time spent at the beach or in a spaced out restaurant.
Bottom line, tourism will happen at its own terms, not at ours. Politicians and regulators are clearly part of the problem in this arena, in making rules that mostly inconvenience Hawaii based travelers.
Note (1): That's the problem with summer... hot and humid weather in AZ, FL, TX, etc. which makes the outdoors less inviting for long periods, and air conditioned spaces highly desirable... thus crowding many people in enclosed spaces with recirculating chilled air. Just what the virus needed for spreading. On a positive note, the crowds seem to include less vulnerable people, so in some states case numbers are way up, but Covid-19 fatalities are nowhere near what NY had in March.