COVID, Masks and Mandates: Kona Impact’s Choice

First, let me say that I’ve always believed in following policy and procedures that are supported by the current best understanding of the scientific community. Follow the science. Simple.

To that end, I have been double-vaccinated and boosted. I used the highest-grade masks I could: N95. I kept my distance and installed several HEPA filters around my office. We created a huge amount of airflow in and out of the office. I avoided places that put a lot of people in confined spaces. The science indicated that these were all best practices, so I followed them.

The fringe “my rights are violated” arguments meant little to me when thousands were dying every day. Likewise, the conspiracy theories and “alternative medicine” ideas just did not fit my worldview and held little sway in my mind. My choice was to get vaccinated and take reasonable precautions.

I also recognize that our county, state, and, less so, national leadership made some decisions that caused the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars for businesses in Hawaii. I know of at least 20 local businesses that were so economically devasted that they were forced to close. Even the businesses that didn’t close suffered many millions of dollars of losses. Many temporarily-closed businesses lost valuable employees as many just left the island. The economic losses were very real and severe and continue on to this day. These were not caused by COVID, but instead the reaction of our leaders to it.

Our County and State employee workforce did not have any reductions in pay or staffing during this time. 100% of the economic pain from the COVID-related laws and restrictions was in the private sector. Our taxes remained the same, and many County and State tax-payer supported services suffered greatly due to the employees’ not coming in to work. I know of people waiting months for license renewals and license tests. I’ve never seen so many potholes on main roads. Yes, there is a certain amount of bitterness here.

 Today is the first day in two years with no testing, travel, vaccination, or mask mandates in place in Hawaii.

Today is the beginning of a return to what many of us remember of the time two years ago. Today is the day that everyone who feels comfortable with and without a mask can go shopping, do a maskless workout at a gym, and worship in a large congregation.

It is a good day.

For those who are still COVID-anxious, please, please continue to take the precautions that are right for you. Do these things without shame or fear of what others will think.

Likewise, if you have made the decision to go maskless, you do not need to feel antisocial or irresponsible.

Both the masked and the maskless should respect the choices made by everyone. There are very good reasons for either choice, so let’s respect what others have decided, without rancor or self-righteousness.

On Monday, Kona Impact will go maskless, though we will continue other precautions that make sense to us. As a private business we are now allowed to make that choice.

If you request that we wear a mask, we will. If you come in with a mask on, do not assume that we will put one on. We probably won’t, but, again, are happy to do so if you make a polite request.

We have decided to do what we feel comfortable with given the science, the case numbers, and the precautions we have taken. If there are big changes in our perceived risk level, we will, for certain, make appropriate changes.