Labor Day weekend is here. Americans have set aside the first Monday in September each year since 1894 in honor of the workers.
This Labor Day is particularly fitting to honor our healthcare workers who have been working since the COVID-19 arrest.
Traveled Maui 18 months ago. Doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, therapists, pharmacists, lab technicians, administrative staff, housekeepers, and more are some of the most caring, compassionate, and dedicated people we will ever meet.
Throughout the pandemic, we have relied on the workers who are deemed essential. This includes teachers, police officers, firefighters, garbage collectors, farmers, postal workers, grocers and many more. They continue to report to work in person, putting themselves at risk to meet our collective needs. They are the silent heroes who live the true meaning of Kuleana – the responsibility and privilege of service.
How are you going to honor her this weekend? By acting irresponsibly or doing the right things? Let me remind you what is right:
≤ Get vaccinated. This is the best way to honor important employees. Despite abundant availability, low vaccination rates and the Delta variant have teamed up to fuel a health crisis in Hawaii. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine remains the best defense against the Delta variant. Yes, there are breakthrough cases, but they are rare, and the vaccine can prevent hospitalization and death in people without any serious underlying medical conditions.
Stay at home. Show that you care by staying home this weekend. It is a bad time to travel outside the island or even drive around town to visit friends. It’s the opening weekend of NCAA football, so a great excuse to stay home and watch the games.
≤ Download the AlohaSafe Alert app. Hawaii’s recent spate of new COVID cases has overwhelmed the Department of Health’s contact tracers. Notification can take days after exposure to someone who tests positive for COVID. Your smartphone can help. Download the free AlohaSafe Alert app from the Apple or Google Play Store and turn on notifications to receive an anonymous alert when you’ve been exposed. Read all about it at www.alohasafe.org.
≤ Keep your distance. The delta variant spreads through close contact between people when breathing droplets are released into the air while speaking, singing, coughing or sneezing. If these droplets are inhaled, the likelihood of infection increases dramatically. The risk is higher indoors, so stay 6 feet away from others, especially when you are indoors.
≤ Mask yourself. The Association of American Medical Colleges recommends everyone wear a mask or two indoors because the Delta variant is so contagious. Those with weakened immune systems and those who have not been vaccinated should consider this “Double masking” when you are in a public place. Be especially careful when dining indoors with people you do not live with. The Delta variant makes its move when you remove your mask to eat, drink or speak.
≤ Go outside to play. It was good advice growing up and now it’s even better. When you’re outdoors, fresh air is constantly moving, making you less likely to breathe in breath droplets that carry the COVID-19 virus.
≤ wash your hands. Airborne droplets are the main way the virus spreads, but it can also remain on surfaces. Frequent hand washing and disinfecting surfaces are healthy ways to reduce your risk of infection.
When this pandemic began, the Maui County’s motto was: “We’re all in the same boat.” We’re still at it together. If we are to emerge from the pandemic as a whole, we must also, and especially, remain united when we do not like certain public health restrictions. It is our duty to protect those in need of protection, especially our keiki under 12 who cannot be vaccinated.
This weekend, let’s think about why we’re celebrating Labor Day and remember that it has nothing to do with beach barbecues. Islanders are interdependent. We need one another and rely on everyone’s work and contributions if we are to thrive as a community.
To the many hardworking people of Maui Nui, especially our healthcare workers and key contributors, mahalo pumehana for your service. Enjoy a happy, healthy, and well-deserved day of work.
* “Our district” a column by Maui Mayor Michael Victorino discusses the affairs of the district and the activities of the district government. The column changes with “3 minutes of council” every other weekend.
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