I want to unmask my true feelings about the Masking of America and how to get people to care enough for one another to be a little more considerate while walking outdoors.
First off, you should always honor social distancing and stay at least six feet away from persons. And you should always wear a mask when entering a business establishment, supermarket or one of my favorite places, a Target store.
But you don’t necessarily need to wear it when exercising by walking on the street, pushing a baby carriage, or attending to your dog outside in suburban areas like the town I live in , Conshohocken, PA.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t address whether people should wear face coverings while exercising outdoors; it only specifies what people should do when they come into contact with others. For the time being, whether or not you choose to wear a face cover when you’re outside is at your own discretion.
Unlike going to the supermarket where it might be harder to keep six feet of distance in narrow aisles, “people generally do not need face coverings while walking in their neighborhoods and practicing social distancing,” said Judith Lightfoot, DO, chief of infectious disease at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Stratford, New Jersey.
In rural and suburban neighborhoods where the foot traffic is light and people honor social-distancing guidelines, some people choose to walk without face coverings. You may feel comfortable doing this because you’re outside in fresh air, and you aren’t coming within six feet of anyone else in your travels.
Now for my real gripe. Everywhere you look in America, it seems, there are discarded gloves and masks in streets and parking lots, left behind by people who couldn’t be bothered to find a nearby trash bin.
I counted seven masks on a walk a few weeks ago and I called the borough government to complain. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember exactly where each discarded piece of crap was located except for the local library where kids usually play. It was removed within hours. The next day I carried a plastic rubber type of glove my son gave me and I picked up ten masks and got rid of ‘em properly.
In New England, someone abandoned their gloves in a cart at Costco, leaving an employee to fish them out and sanitize the cart before it could be used again.
It got so bad in New York City, that Ryan McKenzie, a restauranteur who lives in Manhattan, began cleaning it up. “I couldn’t believe what I saw so I went to the store and bought a grabber and for the last two hours in three square blocks of the East Village, this is what I found,” he told HuffPost. “It’s abhorrent and needs to be brought to people’s attention.”
In the wake of complaints, local authorities are reminding folks of the penalties of littering.
After receiving so many reports of gloves and masks left behind in Parsippany, New Jersey, the local police department issued a warning on Facebook: “Clean up and properly dispose of your used gloves and wipes. If you do not, you can be charged and fined up to $500.”
In Yorktown, New York, the current fine of $500 for littering will be doubled to $1,000 for the first violation for anyone caught improperly discarding face masks and gloves.
Let’s hope our fellow Americans can pick up after themselves before a discarded mask or a glove cause the virus to spread to you or me.