Beaches, pools, parks and tennis courts are now closed on Oahu until September 5, due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. This has felt like a double whammy for us because the day before the Mayor announced this
new order, we were just informed by our kids school that it’ll be distance learning for the first month.
As a physician and a mom, I support both of these measures. Cases on Oahu have been on the rise for the past few weeks. Hawai‘i has sustained triple digit levels of newly reported COVID-19 cases, with a seven-day average of more than 130. Our rate of new infections has increased by 200% over the last two weeks. As the email from my children’s school pointed out, ” These figures make Hawai‘i a state with one of the fastest growing epidemics in the country. The test positivity has also exceeded 5% several days this week, which is a level associated with World Health Organization recommendations for governments to issue stay-at-home orders.”
I also recognize the very limited resources we have on this island, as the most geographically isolated community in the world. The closest place is 3,000 miles away. Once we reach capacity of our ICU beds, we can’t just drive to another state. The Big Island of Hawaii has only 10 ICU beds in their main hospital. 10 beds.
Added to that is the multi-generational living that is common here in Hawaii. Because of the culture and the high cost of housing, it’s routine to have families with 3 generations living in the same home. Usually, grandparents will live in an “Ohana suite” within the same house. Given the increased morbidity of COVID-19 in elderly, this poses such a large threat to our vulnerable population.
But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy with 3 kiddos. The beaches are still open for surfing and swimming, which is great. But, our children really enjoy building sand castles and water tunnels in the sand. They were so disappointed to hear we couldn’t take all of our sand toys to the beach today. As we explained to them, this is a very small price to pay, however, to protect our island community.
So, we found an alternative. Since we don’t have a pool, we’re back to basics here in the Wong house. Two years ago I bought the very best purchase at Target – a unicorn sprinkler. Honestly, the best $50 I’ve ever spent. That and some Costco water balloons are an absolute great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. And just for a few moments, the kids were able to forget about not seeing their friends for another month and the challenges of distance learning. And, we found just a bit of joy.
Sometimes it’s just such a simple thing.
But I honestly felt, as I was getting pelted by water balloons by the kids, that I was in a montage. You know when the fun, summer song plays on the background, as well all scream and laugh in slow motion. It was just one those moments, that I knew I would remember. That in the midst of all of this, was this beautiful moment. I hope you find yours.