You may have read the angry Facebook posts about COVID-19 awareness written by people who, without realizing it, predicted the seriousness of the present. Such posts were mostly written back in early March and told people that if they didn’t take the spreading virus seriously, we’d all end up getting it. People, my family included, shook their heads and assured each other that COVID-19 wasn’t much worse than the flu. But about two weeks into March, everything changed. Events were cancelled. Schools, churches, and offices closed. Not much besides Walmart stayed open.

Now, as businesses start to re-open, we see the problems that the months-old Facebook posts addressed return. I haven’t been out to many stores, but when I do go out, I see very poor execution of the strongly-suggested CDC guidelines. While the government hasn’t ordered that people wear masks, some stores require it, and most others strongly suggest it. People pull their masks down under their noses or chins, completely defeating the purpose of the mask. Others leave out the mask entirely, sure that they won’t be the ones to test positive for the virus. Just this Thursday, while shopping in Burke’s Outlet of Zuppardo’s Plaza, my mask earned a few hushed giggles from a pair of young girls and a nervous stare from a toddler. Masks and staying six feet apart aren’t normal yet— and people are still holding onto the hope that they will never have to be. While returning to the same Burke’s to return a few items, I forgot my mask entirely-- an example of the people I previously addressed in this article.

This isn’t to say that no one is taking it seriously. Our wonderful health care workers are hard at work trying to flatten the curve of COVID-19 cases. Cashiers and employees are being instructed to wear masks at all times and disinfect checkout counters and bathrooms after each use. I wouldn’t want to invalidate the people who are helping keep us all safe— only call on the people who are ignoring the CDC guidelines and falsely assuring themselves that there is no way they will test positive for the virus. Everything is a possibility, and I hope you’ll consider this article the next time you prepare to leave your house unmasked.

Katie is a junior reporter for the Sea Coast Echo and can be reached at cassandra@seacoastecho.com. 

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