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Living in Hawaii: Covid-19 and Island Life

Living on remote islands in the Pacific has certain advantages and a few disadvantages. Other than the obvious benefit of natural beauty and fine weather, we enjoy a certain amount of security that comes from being isolated.

Naturally, I am always aware I live on an island. Almost everywhere I drive, I see water. The current Covid-19 pandemic has prompted me to consider the pros and cons of living in the Hawaiian Islands.

Because one needs to board a boat or a plane to get here, we can control who enters the island and, to a certain extent, track them while they are here. Currently, this allows for better enforcement of self-quarantine and stay at home orders required to control the spread of Covid-19. Airlines servicing Hawaii have drastically reduced flights to the island, and cruise ship travel has stopped completely, which has helped prevent new cases coming to the islands. Now it is up to residents of Hawaii to take precautions to prevent spreading the virus load that is already present. This is where the unique concepts of aloha and malama pono come into place. Acting with love to do the right thing to care for all is the answer.

Containers at Kawaihae harbor where most goods come by barge to Hawaii Island.

Living on islands over 2300 miles from the mainland can sometimes make you feel vulnerable. These islands are not self-sufficient and rely on supplies of food and other necessary goods to be shipped here. That usually translates to higher costs and less variety as a general rule. In times of crisis, be it natural disaster or pandemic, residents worry about shortages of food and supplies. Currently, there are no disruptions in ANY supplies being shipped to Hawaii. As far as I know, this has not been a problem during any modern-day crisis. Like citizens in other states, there are still those who react to fear and feel the need to hoard. This fear is unfounded and only contributes to artificial shortages. We are only a few weeks into this crisis, but so far I have found the stores stocked with all I truly need. There is plenty of fuel for our vehicles. Thank goodness all our utilities are working. Even more importantly, our healthcare system and all the workers on frontlines are holding up. Hawaii’s healthcare system is not equipped to deal with large numbers of critically ill patients at once. If the system is overloaded, relief is a bigger logistic nightmare than on the mainland. All the more imperative that we “flatten the curve.”

One of the problems we will be dealing with perhaps more than other areas is the economic impact of this pandemic.  Hawaii’s main revenue source is tourism, which has come to a standstill. This has happened in the past. Remember post 9/11? The recovery after that was fairly rapid and we can only hope the recovery after this will be quick. Meanwhile, unemployment and all the stresses that accompany it will need to be dealt with.

This blog is not really about real estate, but I will mention that things are “on hold.” Some transactions have been canceled. Both buyers and sellers are cautious and not acting unless they have no choice but to buy/sell. I expect this will change as soon as we turn the corner.

While I am staying at home as required, I am fortunate to be surrounded by the beauty of Hawaii. I can take a walk and enjoy nature, fresh air and I feel safe and calm. Wherever you are, I suggest you do the same. Breath deeply, with or without the mask! Malama pono.

Kohala Mountain Road

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Chris Hansen

April 3, 2020

So true! Love it! Thanks Lisa!

Ted Cull

April 3, 2020

Thanks, Lisa. Hope to call you a neighbor someday.

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