Editorial: Don’t stand so close to me

Erin Seaton, Design Editor

We’re living in scary times right now— that much is inevitable. Every day, breaking news reports remind us of the ever-increasing numbers of coronavirus diagnoses and the slowly growing death rate worldwide. Life is not easy right now. We’re stuck at home, developing cabin fever, wishing that life could go back to the way it was a few months ago. I know how you feel. I feel the same way.

Every day, I dream about what I’m going to do once life becomes less restricting. The first thing on my list? I’m hitting the beach, for sure. I have no idea how long Jacksonville will be in lockdown for. Wuhan, nearly 100 days after its initial outbreak, is just now lifting some lockdown restrictions. So it might be a while for us, but ultimately it will be worthwhile if we follow the guidelines given.

One thing I’m seeing that people are having issues with, however, is social distancing— especially in the grocery shop I work at.

I understand it’s hard to keep an exact six-foot distance from other shoppers in a confined space. Really, it is difficult when there’s only so much room to hold so many people. And I appreciate those who are making a conscious effort.

But it just gets frustrating having to constantly remind customers to please stay behind the plexiglass barrier or having to back up when they get in my face to ask a question. Coronavirus has proven to be an extremely contagious virus, so much so that you risk getting sick by simply being in the presence of an infected person.

The issue that retail workers like myself face is that we come into contact— directly or indirectly— with upwards of hundreds of people while we work. Some are taking protective measures by wearing PPE, but others aren’t. We come into contact with these crowds of people and then return home to our families or roommates. That increases the risk of spreading the virus even more. I’m not so much as concerned about myself getting sick, but my biggest fear is my parents getting sick. They are older and run the risk of developing more severe symptoms. If there is any measure I can take to prevent them from getting sick, I will take it.

So where am I going with this? I ask nicely that if you don’t absolutely have to be out in public, stay at home. Statistics have shown that current methods of social distancing are already working in slowing down the spread of coronavirus. Buying groceries that you absolutely need is definitely a reason to go to the grocery store but cashing in six months’ worth of lottery tickets is not. By staying home, you’re not only keeping yourself safe but keeping hundreds and maybe even thousands of others safe, too.

These are tough times. And as I’ve mentioned before, our country and the rest of the world will never be the same as we were before. But change is inevitable, and hopefully the outcome of these current events will spark positive change. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “We acquire the strength we have overcome.”

And we will overcome this. Stay safe, and as always, wash your hands.