Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Entering Coronavirus Lockdown on Maui

I haven’t blogged in so long I’m not sure where to start. It’s been a really weird time. Maui is entering official lockdown tomorrow morning. Actually, why we haven’t done more sooner is kind of beyond me, and events have moved so quickly, as I’m sure they have elsewhere.

 Mayor's letter outlining emergency measures  3-20-20

What’s been so odd is that all this time the Coronavirus has been spreading through Italy and Seattle and New York, is that here in Hawaiʻi, it has been vacation mode. People have been so relaxed. I was still working in Paʻia as of Saturday, 10 days ago. The mood was overall quiet (but sometimes that’s because people visit Paʻia the day they are leaving since it’s so close to the airport) rather than gleeful but still casual. What is it about the word pandemic? People seem to think it doesn’t fit with paradise. Yet, in the history of Hawaiʻi, tens of thousands of native Hawaiians died two centuries ago after contact with foreign diseases like the flu.

People were still walking too close to each other and picking up things and I was the nervous one, constantly spraying around with rubbing alcohol and I even brought my electric diffuser to work to diffuse Thieves’ oil, an essential oil blend purported to keep the thieves in good health during the Bubonic Plague as they were robbing graves. All my paranoia wasn’t so much for me but I didn’t want to bring the virus home to my husband who has existing health conditions. I told a friend it felt like we were rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Whole Foods Maui empty shelves

Safeway empty pasta sauce shelves

Island Grocery sign limiting rice purchases

Costco line on 3/17/20

Odd mushroom shaped cloud over Ho'okipa?

Pukalani Superette closed on 3/23/20, but they are supposed to be open today

Makawao boarded up

In Paʻia, all the boutiques and art galleries were still open except for maybe three as of last week Tuesday. Lots of people were still strolling through the town. And Mama’s Fish House restaurant was still open as of Wednesday. I think they were still open Thursday. That just seemed insane considering that they serve around 2000 people a day. My Hawaiian language classmates announced that they were going to protest (with safe social distancing) outside the airport with signs to ask people to go back home.

Though finally, the mayor announced emergency measures last Wednesday to shut down all non-essential businesses – and I have felt much safer since then. We still didn’t have too many cases on Maui – about 7 – as of last week. Also, finally the governor got on-board and is instituting a 14 day quarantine, finally putting the health and safety of people above the tourist dollars.

Shopping has been a bit more intense. I missed the Costco toilet paper shopping frenzy and when we stocked up last week, some shelves were definitely empty. Whole Foods was totally out of canned beans and potatoes and probably a lot of other items I wasn’t looking at. There were signs at Costco and Island Grocery limiting the number of certain products. And Mana Foods was closing down its bulk items like dried pasta and rice and cereal, and I don’t know if any of those items will be restocked - because the bulk area involves people bagging their own dried goods, which isn’t the safest policy these days. Also, a lot of people I know are planting seeds and starting gardens. In Hawaii, there’s always the lurking fear that the ships will stop coming with goods and we’ll run out of toilet paper – and food – and toilet paper. Maybe we can grow our own toilet paper – something with soft leaves. I guess that’s an untapped market for someone.

I did freak out when we got to Costco last Tuesday. There was a line out the door and it kept growing. After some doubt about how long it would take to get inside, I ended up going in line after all and it curved inside the food court, but actually moved very quickly. The warehouse was not the usual mayhem it normally is. A shout out to Costco because they limited the number of people in the store, kept the customers approaching the check out 6 feet apart, and sanitized the check out counters for each transaction. Hopefully, things have settled down with the stockpiling and hoarding situation. We also stopped by Pukalani Superette on Monday after getting our propane tank filled and they were unexpectedly closed. I was very surprised – maybe they were just really concerned about not getting the virus. Turns out, they are open again, and the closing was part of some temporary process to figure out their procedures going forward.

One blessing has been that my Nonviolent Communication group has been holding online meetings. Nonviolent Communication doesn’t fully convey the richness of this platform. It’s far more than mediating conflicts or how to argue less. It’s about understanding one’s needs and the other party’s needs, and the strategies that we use to get our needs met, and choosing better strategies to get our needs met. Ways that are kinder and gentler and respectful and also more effective. It’s about having self-empathy and empathy for others and so it’s a perfect approach for these challenging times.

My quilting group is organizing the collection of fabric face masks to the local hospital. That seems kind of crazy too, that we don’t have enough masks for the hospital workers, but apparently, it’s true everywhere else, except perhaps Taiwan. I’m a terribly slow sewer but I may try to sew some. That would be a stretch for me.

My Hawaiian language class at the college is now meeting online, using Zoom. The first half hour was hideous, but it seemed to improve as we got more used to the technology.
My cat hanging out during my online Hawaiian language class.

Anyhow, I may try to write the occasional post now that I’m at home more – although there is still always the home improvement project to do. Hope everyone is doing their best to stay safe! Though, latest update: there is now a tsunami alert for Hawaiʻi. Update: good news! It's been cancelled. Phew!

Resources for Maui residents dealing with the Coronavirus quarantine:

For amusement only: an odd News of The Weird feature from Maui Time