It started so silently that there was not even a notice in the paper, or at the clinic door. It happened when this blogger went to his physical therapist appointment at the clinic on April 6, 2023.
In walking through the hallways, a sight came upon that was startling…a fellow patient in the clinic not wearing a surgical mask. Thinking about how strict everyone has been about wearing masks in a hospital/clinical setting, the thought of “Oh, he’s in trouble!” came quickly to mind.
And then, out of nowhere, there was another. In waiting for the doctor to come out to call me in, another patient not wearing a mask came into the waiting room.
“What is happening?” I asked myself with my ill-fitting mask over my mouth and nose.
Going through the physical training session for my shoulder, I noted that none of the techs in the room were wearing masks. Some patients like I still were, but some were not. Finally, I asked the therapist, while trying to catch my breath if I could keep the mask off for a minute.
His response “Oh, don’t worry, no more mask mandate, wear it if you want to, not mandated anymore, started today”.
I retorted “Where was the notice on this?” thinking that I missed the email or bulletin or even put a notice on the door that I may have missed. The answer back was even more surprising “Nope, they just took down the signs saying to wear a mask.”
And that was that. After three years (From April 20, 2020, when the first mandate was put in place in Hawai‘i), 1,082 days, and countless amounts of noise on both sides of the debate, the last of the mask mandates that affected any level of the population in Hawai‘i had been dropped.
Just a few days later, after that experience, President Biden signed a bill passed by Congress that ended the national emergency proclamations related to COVID. And again, like a notice that almost no one said, it quietly went into effect, with a 2-minute read in an ABC News website, and maybe some mention in other places.
And just like that, everything about COVID was over. After a similar amount of days (approximately 1,100), the whole emergency was done. Note: COVID is not done as a pandemic, but the rules put in by politicians to address the pandemic, are over.
This blogger, noting the time and date of the end of the emergency rules, thought that there may be more to be said than just “ending” it all, considering how much of a life-level disruption the emergency rules were to millions of people in the United States, and, at times, over 200,000 unemployed people in Hawai‘i.
Let alone the thousands that uprooted their lives in Hawai‘i and moved to the mainland, along with the various physical and mental health issues that came from it. Not to mention the yelling and screaming by some who bemoaned the “loss” of their liberties, the friendships that were strained and broken over taking sides on the mandates, dictums, and overall philosophy of how to fight COVID.
Nothing…not even an announcement like in M*A*S*H* announcing the Korean War Armistice and that the war was over. It was as if the news came, people shrugged, and they moved on with whatever they were doing.
Truly, the end of the emergency came as quietly as a mouse, a thief in the night if you are biblically inclined to equate it, silent and silence as the title of this piece is.
To determine the ramifications of this very quiet development in the continued saga that we call life, maybe that is for historians to do sometime later when the ending of the emergency rules has been gone for longer.
But for now, we have been returned to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.