Even in Hawaii, Virus Can’t Be Avoided—But the View is Way Bettercsudhbulletin March 19, 2020 0 COMMENTS
By Taylor Helmes, Assistant News Editor
Like every other Toro, I received a startling email last Wednesday about the temporary suspension of classes.
Unlike most Toros, I happened to be on the Big Island of Hawaii. Call it an early spring break.
But it was hard to wrap my head around the news that started flooding in on my cell phone and those around me. Travel restrictions. Sports suspensions. Events closed. Bars shutting down.
It was hard to comprehend because it wasn’t my reality. I was about to hike Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, discover black sand beaches, and shop at the local farmers market and marketplace.
It’s not like I was completely ignorant. I’d boarded the flight at LAX wearing a face mask, because I had a slight cough, and brought plenty of hand sanitizer and washed my hands regularly. But I’ve alway been one of those travelers who takes extra precautions.
But there’s a difference between being prepared and panic-purchasing baby formula, clearing out Costco’s shelves, or comparing this virus to the Black Plague.
And it’s not like no one mentioned coronavirus on the island. I saw masks everywhere; then again, the island is literally made up of volcanic rock. But the longer I was there, the more the virus was talked about especially among locals and tourists. I noticed rather than focusing on the health concerns, local businesses were more worried about the lack of travelers
Maha Schutte, an employee at The Walking Company from Waimea, told us how her store was cutting hours because of the lack of tourists and travelers in the area. “You guys came just in time,” she jokingly said.
Coming back home to a mostly closed campus, work being canceled until further notice, and an unimaginable shortage on things like toilet paper is an eerie feeling. But maybe it was my physical detachment when this reached crisis point over the weekend (I returned late Saturday night), or maybe I brought my own kind of infection back from Hawaii: that impossible to hold but hard to escape mentality to take everything in stride, that all things, good and bad, will eventually pass.
Don’t get me wrong. I know these are serious, tense times. And though I am thankful that I’ll be saving the gas it takes for me to commute 50 miles to campus, and I’ll gladly work from home, poolside or my bed, I will miss the social interactions and connections I’ve made with my fellow Toros.
(Yes, I’m talking about you guys in the newsroom.)