LIHU‘E — The state Department of Health discovered 68% of Kaua‘i residents use personal protective equipment in public places the DOH surveyed.
In the study, Hawai‘i County was discovered to have the lowest percentage of PPE usage among the neighbor islands, 57%, with Maui at 70% of residents wearing masks.
The statistical analysis concluded that O‘ahu had a high level of participation, with 84% of their residents surveyed wearing masks.
The efforts were led by the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa School of Nursing’s Dr. Gary Glauberman and his team of volunteers, who collected the data in commercial areas on weekends.
Several Kaua‘i UH students and members of the Kaua‘i Medical Reserve Corps helped the DOH collect data using survey applications on smartphones.
The DOH decided to not conduct observations in areas where people spend time exclusively outdoors, such as beaches and parks, because of the lower risk of transmission of the virus, according to the DOH statistics.
State DOH Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman is optimistic about the data collected. “As far as we know, Hawai‘i is the only state collecting and reporting data on mask-wearing behavior,” Berreman said. “The importance of mask-wearing is a consistent part of the county’s and DOH’s public messaging about COVID-19 and, in part, I think it just takes time for a new behavior to become a regular practice.”
Berreman attributed Kaua‘i’s low percentage of people wearing PPE in public to the island’s low numbers of COVID-19 infections on the island.
“It is also possible that people on Kaua‘i feel relatively safe because of our low levels of disease. But, as we know, that can change at any time,” Berreman said.
Berreman said she hopes the COVID-19 numbers will continue to stay low in order for the county to start loosening restrictions.
“As we look forward to loosening restrictions related to travel and students returning to in-person learning at school, it is important that we all remember to wear our masks when we are outside our homes and around others,” Berreman said.
Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or email@example.com.