To the editor:

When stay-at-home orders were first put in place and as local non-essential businesses shut down and we were asked to limit travel for essential business and activities, I began to make plans. Each night as I sunk into my bed, heavy with the daily news of COVID-19 spreading throughout the globe, I looked toward the (hopefully) near future. I looked forward to restaurants and movie theaters reopening to break the monotony of my new weekend routine of making plans for lofty projects and watching YouTube. When my partner’s place of work closed and when my own work hours were reduced, we made new budgets and adjusted our lifestyle. We understood the severity of this pandemic and felt the state wide shutdowns were necessary to help flatten the curve. We also understood that many people were suffering from loss of income and have limited to no resources to help weather the shutdown.

So reopening sooner rather than later would be necessary for the livelihood of many while stimulus checks lagged or were spent on rent and utilities as soon as they arrived, and while unemployment stalled due to an outdated system.

What we didn’t plan for was how few people would take social distancing measures to heart and how few people would wear masks in public when the state reopened.

It has been very disheartening to see so many members of our community blatantly ignore CDC guidelines. It’s hard to contain a virus with no vaccine in sight when you are shopping and people without masks on begin crowding around you in the grocery store aisle, or when a restaurant worker hands you your food with no masks or gloves on.

We may have returned to business but it should not be business as usual. I wear a mask to not only protect myself from possible droplets in the air but to help protect others from contracting it from me. I feel a responsibility to my neighbors and fellow community members to take seriously the fact that many COVID-19 carriers do not present any symptoms and can be infected without knowing it, myself included. I do not think wearing a mask impedes on my rights anymore than having to wear shoes in public buildings. There is still a virus in our midst and I implore my fellow community members to acknowledge it and help stop the spread.

I realize many people may not have access to masks and hope government agencies help make masks accessible to people in need and that employers provide employees with proper PPE.