Our Beaches Were Empty, Our Hospitals Full
Leadership Stories from Hawai‘i’s Unique Pandemic Response
Hawai‘i’s response to COVID-19 demanded remarkable collaboration by top leaders in government, business, education and healthcare. In Our Beaches Were Empty, Our Hospitals Full, those leaders recount in their own words all the behind-the-scenes drama of the fight against this deadly pandemic. Here is an inside look at an unprecedented community effort, and a playbook on what to do—and what not to do—the next time around. Presented in oral history format with authors Kirk Caldwell and Georgette Takushi Deemer leading the conversations, Our Beaches Were Empty, Our Hospitals Full includes conversations with:
Chris Benjamin (Alexander & Baldwin)
Libby Char (Department of Health)
Tim Cottrell (‘Iolani School)
John De Fries (Hawai‘i Tourism Authority)
David DeRauf (Kōkua Kalihi Valley)
Jonathan Dworkin (Queen’s Medical Ctr.)
Dennis Francis (Oahu Publications)
Bob Harrison (First Hawaiian Bank)
Jason Higa (FCH Enterprises/Zippy’s)
Peter Ho (Bank of Hawai‘i)
David Ige (Governor of Hawai‘i)
Peter Ingram (Hawaiian Airlines)
Micah Kane (Hawai‘i Community Foundation)
Derek Kawakami (Kaua‘i Mayor)
Harry Kim (Hawai‘i Island Mayor)
Christina Kishimoto (Dept. of Education)
Duane Kurisu (aio LLC / Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative)
David Lassner (University of Hawai‘i)
Sherry Menor-McNamara (Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i)
Ron Mizutani (Hawai‘i Foodbank)
Mark Mugiishi (HMSA)
Ray Vara (Hawai‘i Pacific Health)
Michael Victorino (Maui Mayor)
Paul Yokota (FCH Enterprises/Zippy’s)
Paul Yonamine (Central Pacific Financial Corp.)
Taken together, these inside stories by Hawai‘i’s governor and four mayors, doctors and healthcare administrators, school officials, bankers and other business leaders make for compelling reading, as critical decisions affecting hundreds of thousands of residents were made in the face of an unprecedented deadly pandemic, overwhelming public uncertainty, and uninformed and often conflicting guidelines at the national level.
Kirk Caldwell served as mayor of the City and County of Honolulu for eight years, terming out at the end of 2020. Caldwell has been an attorney for much of his career and has served as majority leader in the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives and as city managing director.
Georgette Takushi Deemer was deputy managing director for the City and County of Honolulu during the Caldwell administration. She was previously communications director for the Hawai‘i State House of Representatives and also served as Hawai‘i’s state film commissioner.
Softcover; 320 pp.
Authors: Kirk Caldwell and Georgette Takushi Deemer
Release Date: May 2023
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