Kearny man ‘Twisted’ over improper COVID-19 mask disposal

Anyone who knows Kearny’s Len Twist is aware of his greatest passion — feeding feral cats as part of his Trap, Neuter and Return program (TNR). And because of this, his travels take him to all parts of Kearny and elsewhere. In this travels, he says he’s seeing something that has unnerved him — and it has nothing to do with his cats. Instead, it is something humans are doing and could easily control. Perhaps you’ve noticed it, too.

It’s the way human beings are using the streets and sidewalks to dispose of unwanted COVID-19 face masks.

Since the pandemic broke out, this has been an issue locally. Perhaps it’s a problem all over. But after months of seeing the discarded masks at mini-malls, along the shopping corridor and just about everywhere else he goes, Twist says he has had enough.

Over the last few weeks, Twist says he’s noticed it’s only gotten worse. He takes photos with his iPhone’s camera whenever he spots them. And to say the least, his picture roll is growing each day.

Last week, Twist spoke out about what he’s seeing. And he equates people’s careless disposal of the masks as the same as if a person with diabetes simply threw away their insulin-injecting syringes in the streets right after taking the life-saving medication.

One of many masks Len Twists encounters in his travels. Len Twist photo

“It’s all over — every street has something on it,” Twist said. “Kearny Avenue is probably the worst. Davis Avenue is next. Down by Hoyt (Street), Devon Terrace, in that area. You can tell they’re used. People are not taking the proper care of disposing of used masks. I take care of mine personally — I put them in a plastic bag. Then it goes in the garbage. I don’t even want the garbage men to have to handle them. I don’t want them blowing out and down the street.

“This is a whole lot more dangerous than stepping on a needle that may or may not be infected with HIV or Hepatitis C. If you touch a (COVID-19 infected) mask, it could be your death sentence.”

Twist notes that “Kearny has always had a litter problem,” but says where he lives, in a condo-complex, everyone there does their part to ensure there isn’t a mask-throwing-away issue — and it can be done that way everywhere.

“The place is spotless — it’s like being in another world,” Twist said. “When I’d first seen it, it was like seeing shopping carts in the middle of a parking lot. What are they thinking? Why can’t they just return the carts? It’s the same thing with dropping your masks on the ground. Who wants to pick up someone else’s mask? I see a mask, I won’t pick it up. If it was a piece of paper, I would pick it up if it’s a candy wrapper, but I will not pick up the mask.”

But that, in turn, means someone else is going to have to pick it up eventually, whether it’s a DPW worker, a home owner, the garbage collectors — someone.

“It puts them in harm’s way,” Twist said. “It couldn’t be more unfair. Think of your neighbor. How would you feel coming out and contracting the Coronavirus because someone else dropped their mask on the ground in front of your home? I try to put myself in the other man’s shoes. We have start thinking about our neighbors, and there’s just not enough of that. Just throw the masks away properly and stop this nonsense.”

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.