Alofa Nua ran a small tire shop on O‘ahu with his wife Tanya, working seven days a week. He was young, healthy and full of life. Last March, he began feeling ill and developed a fever. That’s when he got tested for COVID-19. He thought it was just the flu, but he was wrong. A week after being admitted to the hospital, he began to have trouble breathing. The doctors at Queen’s told him they would have to put him on a ventilator. In his words, they put him to sleep in March and he woke up in May. He was in the hospital for 7 ½ weeks. During his stay, his heart stopped twice, his lungs collapsed, and his body was constantly fighting one infection after another. By all accounts, he should not be with us today. But he is — because of his own resilience and the love and support of his family.
More importantly, Alofa is a survivor because of the dedication, professionalism and sincere concern of his medical caregivers, who refused to let him lose his battle with the virus. They are the true heroes of Hawai‘i. And there are many others, including our first responders and essential workers, who go to work every day, despite this deadly pandemic. Here in Hawai‘i, we have always counted on each other in good times and bad. We were at our best when we were looking out for each other—when we didn’t let the times tear us apart. This is who we are. This is who we’ve always been. We have a choice of letting this pandemic dictate our destiny or working together to create a brighter tomorrow. I ask you to join me in determining a new path to the future.