WEEK # 22 since the start of the Pandemic in Maryland, USA
My grandsons, ages two and five, were coming to visit last month and I was excited. One of their favorite activities is going to the library. They love books and they love being read to, particularly before naps and bedtime. Their family has been living a sequestered existence in Virginia, staying close to home and maintaining social distancing. During their short visit, I wanted them to have a good time, but excursion options were limited. I thought of getting a large selection of books we could look at together and I could read to them. Where was I going to go to get the books? To my delight, the Anne Arundel Library had just opened to the public. Previously it was curbside pick-up only, but instead of trying to figure out which picture books to check out via computer, I could walk in and personally select books off the shelf if I observed social distancing and wore a mask.
No problem for me, I thought to myself. It was the least I could do to protect the library employees and other patrons. I chose a dozen books as quickly as I could, being careful to stand behind the line while checking out. And the boys were pleased with my selections. I kept the books an extra week after they left so I could read a few to them when we visited virtually by video conference on Zoom. Then I returned them, via drop box as directed. The library has been very careful to sequester returned books and wait before re-shelving them until the virus is no longer active.
One month later, August 13th, the Board of Directors of the Anne Arundel library in Maryland has voted to limit walk-in access into the libraries because too many people refuse to wear masks and social distance. Hundreds of times librarians had to remind patrons of following the correct protocol. Angry insults were hurled at library employees and several times the police had to be called.
Surely at a library, a place that attracts people that value books, reading, education, and communication, people would be paying attention to what is going on around them and would be considerate of others. Sadly, I am wrong!
The result— they’ve had to close the doors to our libraries. In order to keep providing services to the community, they will be extending curbside pick-up hours, and are adding virtual meetings with librarians, laptop check-outs and other services. Commencing on the September 8th, they will be reopening by appointment only. If you want to browse the shelves in person, you’ll be able to do so by scheduling your visit in advance.
This is one of many sad examples of what is happening to our society on many fronts. The selfish actions of a few people tell me they are not paying attention at all to what is going on around them. As a result of not wearing masks and not observing social distancing, Americans are not only endangering the health of others but they are also hurting our economy. Indirectly they are causing more people to stay unemployed. This translates into people not being able to pay mortgages and rent, unable to buy food to feed their family.
Recently through social media I’ve been hearing about patrons at some of our local food markets and stores, refusing to wear masks. While store managers, health department, and police can be called—it’s too late to undue the immediate damage they’ve done, possibly exposing others to the coronavirus.
Why should I want to go to a store, restaurant or any public place for the at matter—where safety precautions for spreading the virus are not being observed.
Fortunately we can still check books out of our libraries, and we can exchange and share books with neighbors and friends. Showing solidarity and support to all those people who are trying so hard to do the right thing is one way to help.
In the long term we need to patronize businesses that follow health department and CDC recommendations and avoid businesses and situations that put us at risk. We are the consumers. It’s our wallet and it’s our health.
Stay safe. We’re all in this together.