Recently in Honolulu and its environs, there has been a significant spike in clustered COVID-19 infections. Perhaps the gradual reopening of businesses and recreational facilities has given people the carte blanch to not wear masks in public and to disregard social distancing. I have personally witnessed this worrisome negligence during the past week in Waikiki and neighboring Kahala and back to Waikiki.
Two cops without masks barged into the Waikiki Safeway; a few minutes later, they exited, again without being masked. I don’t know what their mission was, but they could have contaminated the shoppers and themselves through their blatant disregard for basic hygiene during the epidemic. A different example of police brutality!
When my wife and I were shopping at the Hawaii Kai Costco, where masks are mandatory, I saw one grizzled man wearing his mask at half mast, completely exposing his nose (real bright!) as he milled about. As I continued to shop, I came across a woman who had on no visible mask at all. I quickly bypassed both offenders who were just inches away from other people.
At a shaded spot in front of the Kalaha Hotel, a non-masked cheery young man greeted me while I was reading. When I looked up, he was an inch from my face. I was so flustered that I didn’t have the presence of mind to tell him to back off six feet or so. He then asked me about my novel. I curtly but still courteously gave him a bit of information. He slowly ambled away from me. Luckily, I had my mask on, but this encounter was nonetheless disconcerting.
The next day at Kahala, the same guy began to approach me and the good friends who were with us at the time. I saw him in time to caution him. Like a third base coach warning a runner to stop, I extended my hand to block the intruder from coming any closer. I then told him that he must remain six feet away from us. He did so, as good-naturedly and clueless as he was about taking precautions. I felt like a hero.
The next day at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Mall in Waikiki, where signs tell everyone to don masks, I was pushing the carriage of my 15 month-old “adopted” grandkid when I encountered a young woman not wearing a mask. Instead of ignoring her, I asked her where her mask was. She delved into her purse and found it and put on immediately. My assertiveness paid off. A minute later, another unmasked young lady passed by. With my newly found confidence, I told her that she needed to put on a mask; that was the rule. She willingly complied. Mission accomplished!
It is not my job to remind people to take measures to ward off COVID-19, but as infections mount, I’ll take more initiative. I am not trying to be self-righteous: I’m just trying to do my part to help stave off the insidious assault of COVID-19.