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University of Hawaiʻi Disaster Expert on Risks, Uncertainty of the Pandemic

AP Photo/Caleb Jones

For about 16 months, this health and economic crisis known as the coronavirus pandemic has tested our systems and our psyche. An expert on disaster preparedness shared his thoughts about managing the uncertainty and risks of the pandemic.

"I have to start by saying the pandemic is really different from other disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes or flooding," said University of Hawaiʻi Urban and Regional Planning Professor Karl Kim. "It's global and it's affecting all communities throughout the world."

Kim, who is also the Executive Director of the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at UH, studies disasters of all kinds — and how humans respond and recover. The center develops training and educational programs for emergency managers, first responders, urban planners, and members of the community.

With the more contagious delta variant appearing all over the world, sometimes in people who are vaccinated, Kim said he thinks there should be more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

"This disease will continue to mutate and change, and it's going to be with us for some time," he said. "We may not get the new vaccines or the new boosters or the new treatments in time. So all the other things that we've learned about how to contain this disease, we have to bring them back and use them."

Kim suggests that people cut each other some slack as Hawaiʻi tries to move through this transition phase.

Click the "Listen" button to hear more from Karl Kim. This interview aired on The Conversation on July 28, 2021.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
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