In a global pandemic, not everyone cares enough about others to take preventative measures that would help stop the spread of the virus.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a statewide mask mandate on July 16. In addition to this, many businesses already required employees and patrons to wear masks. People still refuse, however, to follow the rules.
The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Anthony Fauci became enemies of anti-maskers and COVID-deniers during the months we have spent in this pandemic. These parties recommend wearing a mask, not going out and generally staying socially distant, while anti-maskers insist these things infringe upon their rights as an American.
Aside from anti-maskers in general, another prominent issue is businesses blatantly ignoring or not actively enforcing the mask mandate. Some of this can be chalked up to fear: in May, the security guard of a Michigan Family Dollar was shot for telling someone they needed to wear a mask to enter the store. Employees get screamed at and harassed on the regular by anti-maskers, which makes enforcing mask policies terrifying.
This fear is not always the case. You can go into many businesses and see customers walking around without masks on, disregarding the safety of others. Some stores are open about not requiring masks, such as The Refinery located on Red Wolf Boulevard. In other places, employees will set the example by not wearing masks properly. The masks will be under their nose, or even completely pulled down under their chin.
I asked my friends on Facebook to tell me places they had been that weren’t enforcing masks, and the places shared with me were Dollar General, QDOBA Mexican Eats, Walmart, Cosmoprof, Chili’s Grill & Bar and IHOP. Cregeen’s Irish Pub located downtown stayed open despite two employees testing positive for COVID-19.
It’s hard to rely on individual responsibility during a pandemic, but when people refuse to follow simple protocols such as wearing a mask, it seems we will never be able to go back to some sense of normality. Another problem posed from this is people doing things such as going to large gatherings on holidays, and then not getting tested afterward or following mask and social distancing guidelines.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health COVID-19 Case Update, Craighead County has the most cases of COVID-19 in Northeast Arkansas.
What all of this is meant to say is: wear a mask, social distance and gather responsibly.