stay safe smiley face on a road
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Comment: Where you were made a difference

We want our old normal back, but what if this is our new normal?

When the pandemic first hit, I adapted to the CDC guidelines when they were released. But I learned that where you lived made a difference in how strictly these guidelines were practiced and enforced.

When the virus first appeared in Cleveland, I was worried but went about my regular routine without much hesitation. My sister and I spent the last “normal” day visiting Downtown and taking photos. We did not feel like that day was any different than those before it. There were no masks, no social distancing rules, and no safety precautions because we weren’t considered to be “in danger.”

But in a few days we learned there might be a large rapid spread, and subtle changes appeared. We went home to our family assuming that we would ride out the rest of spring break away from a busy city. Just like everyone else, we expected this to last a month or so and then return to normal.

We crossed our fingers and tried to enjoy our extended spring break before we had to return to campus. Little did we know that we had stepped foot on school grounds for the last time that semester and classes would be held online.

We played with the cards we had been dealt, thinking that that would be the worst of this storm. In August, when the school opened its doors again, we returned to our apartment for the fall semester and tried our best to stay safe by socially distancing, wearing masks, and keeping our hands extra clean. It seemed like everyone else was doing their part as well. Based on what we knew about the virus at this point, I felt very safe in the city.

Then, in October, I left Cleveland to live in Wooster with my fiancé.

I expected folks there would adhere to the CDC guidelines as we had seen in Cleveland.

I had no reservations about going to the grocery store or visiting other public establishments. But, when I stepped into the grocery store masked up, I saw I was the odd one out. No one else was wearing a mask or even standing six feet apart from other shoppers. Employees weren’t wearing masks either. I figured that if I were to contract the virus, this would be how.

As time went on, more and more people in Wooster started following guidelines, but not willingly.  

Although I entered the time of the pandemic without a care in the world, I am now very observant of the safety practices set by the CDC. My eyes now immediately go to people without masks. I feel strange without mine as well. We used to forget our masks at home or in the car, but now it’s second nature for us to have them in our hands.

We want our old normal back, but what if this is our new normal?