Traveling in during the pandemic

Teddy Roosevelt island in Washington, D.C. (photo by Madison Pierce)

By Madison Pierce |
Staff writer

OPINION 

I have been living in Augusta for six years. The city is mostly safe as far as gang violence, drug use and abuse. During the current world-wide pandemic, I have felt very safe living in Augusta.

When the pandemic reached Augusta, I would think to myself “no big deal, it will only be a few minutes and I will socially distance from other people” when I forgot to wear my mask. Since then, most places are requiring a form of facial covering. 

I have recently taken two trips to visit my family on short notice.  

The first trip was in April to visit my mother. She is lives outside of Washington, D.C., in a small town called Hanover.  

While I was visiting her, it was public practice for everyone to wear their masks while social distancing. On the last day of my visit we went to a park close to downtown D.C. 

There was a small group of people walking around not wearing masks, and they were asked repeatedly by multiple people to put on masks. Eventually the group complied. 

I have seen groups of people in Augusta that are not socially distancing or wearing masks while in public and were not asked to do so.  

On the second trip I had to drive to Cleveland, Ohio for my brother’s wedding.  

At the wedding we did social distance, and some of us wore masks. While there I felt as safe as I do in Augusta. When driving through West Virginia and North Carolina my feelings started to change. 

While driving home, I needed gas and stopped at a few small towns.  

At a stop in West Virginia I overheard “the virus is just something cooked up by the Democrats” and “Trump is just using this as a way to undermine the election” based comments.  

I was the only one besides the employees wearing a mask. There were postings on doors and windows before entering any establishments about the state requirements. The employees were not asking people to put masks on, and I thought it was bizarre.  

I work in Grovetown, Ga at a coffee shop. I remind customers that without proper face coverings, we cannot and will not serve them. While I am at work if someone comes in without a mask, I immediately greet them and then ask them to put a mask on to ensure the safety of not only other patrons, but my co-workers and myself.  

While things might feel safe in Augusta, it is not the case for the rest of the country.  

I live with two people who are high risk and it is important to me that I do what I can to keep them, and everyone else around me, safe by wearing a mask and socially distancing when I can.