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Reflecting on Hawaii's Mandatory 14-day Quarantine

Amy Nakamura
HPR's summer news intern Amy Nakamura with her mother Johnnel (Left), brother Andy (Middle) and father Reese (Right)

Hawaii Public Radio’s summer intern and Syracuse University student Amy Nakamura found herself sheltered for two weeks earlier this summer due to the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine. Here she shares her experiences -- not least of all the day she was set free.


There were a lot of plans I had made for the summer. I thought I would be spending time interning in New York at The Wall Street Journal. I was going to see the Statue of Liberty and catch a show on Broadway. But then COVID-19 happened. So I decided to head back home to Hawaii. 

Since I was coming from New York, the state with the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country at that point, my parents and I decided to take extra precautions. I quarantined alone in my aunt’s house. She had moved out years ago, and the house had been empty -- it was, well, a little lonely. 


My mom stocked the fridge and cabinets with food that I’d need for the 14 days. Another aunt lives next door, so she would drop off supplies on my front steps as well. And there was always pizza or takeout.

I missed my family after being away at school. Saddest of all, I was looking forward to my brother’s high school graduation. Iolani School was allowing close family members to watch the ceremony in person -- from their cars. 

But I was stuck in quarantine. And when graduation day finally came, I watched my brother receive his diploma from my laptop. 

Working remotely for HPR took up most of the time, which is good. I always have something to do during the day.

Off hours, I had to entertain myself. I’ve never really lived by myself -- there’s always been family or college roommates around. But thanks to Netflix, the two weeks in quarantine went by faster than I thought it would. 

On the last day of my quarantine, I went on the state Department of Health website to check on my status. 

It said: “Thank you for protecting your health and our community. Your mandatory self-quarantine is completed. Enjoy the rest of your stay in Hawaii!”

I was finally free. I walked around the block, saw my friends, and it felt like a big relief.

Except -- there’s still COVID-19 out there. I’m constantly paranoid -- making sure my friends, family and I are abiding by social distancing rules. 


So while I survived my 14 days inside, there’s no real end to the feeling that I need to be careful -- and I think that’s going to stay with me -- with all of us --  for a while.

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