Masks and social distancing are still essential

Illustration by Aleah Green

As COVID-19 cases rise, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend everyone wear something to cover their mouth and nose and to social distance in public areas in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As an essential worker, I think people need to take this recommendation and other precautions more seriously.

Nearly every day, I go to work knowing that I am putting myself in danger by being around so many people. I wear a hand-sewn mask and keep my distance from customers, trying my best to protect myself and others. It can be frustrating to see that other people don’t take the same measures.

Although I’m grateful for my job in a time when so many people are unemployed, this danger is not necessary, and I’d rather avoid it. I think others would feel the same way.

Working at a supermarket, I’ve seen many people shop for items I would consider nonessential, such as electronics and clothes. During a global pandemic, I think food and cleaning supplies are much more essential. Coming to the store to simply browse puts workers and other customers at risk.

I’ve also seen many people shop without face coverings or masks. The CDC recommends everyone wear a face mask, although there are some exemptions.

This is to protect others if someone is infected but not showing symptoms. If one wears a mask, it prevents droplets formed through speaking or coughing from entering another person’s respiratory system. This preventative measure helps the wearer avoid infection.

N95 masks should be reserved for health care workers, but there are many alternatives that can be made at home. Masks can be made with materials found around the house, such as T-shirts and bandanas.

Buying or making a face mask is another way to ensure that people are safe and are not at further risk of infection. Shoppers need to realize that not wearing a mask puts themselves at risk as well as the people around them.

Many customers also come in as a group or family when one person should come in to shop for the whole family. Bringing children into the store can put their health at risk, so it is best that they stay at home if possible. Of course, issues with finding child care are understandable.

When one person goes into the store, there are less people in one area. Less crowding can slow the spread of the virus. This is why the CDC limited gatherings to no more than 250 people.

Grocery stores have placed precautions to protect their customers such as implementing social distancing at checkout, disinfecting surfaces and not allowing people to try on clothes. However, this doesn’t guarantee that the virus can’t spread in these areas.

Limiting the amount of people that are in the store at one time and ensuring that every one of those customers wears a face mask can create a safer environment for those who need essentials.

The only way to avoid contracting the virus altogether is to stay home and avoid being close to other people. People can still do so while getting essentials and even nonessentials.

Many grocery stores offer curbside pickup that limits exposure to other people. This should be done rather than going inside even as some restrictions are lifted.

On May 11, restaurants were allowed to offer dine-in services and salons were reopened with precautionary measures in places. However, this does not mean that the virus is no longer a threat. Social distancing should still be enforced.

The ability to properly social distance is a privilege that not every person has. People need to realize that when they leave their homes, they are endangering their health as well as the essential workers that are there to help.

If everyone adhered to all of these precautions holistically, the spread of the virus will slow down.