Dale Edwards with mask

News of Orange Managing Editor Dale Edwards

As a journalist, I’m considered an essential employee. Early every weekday morning, I hit the highway to travel from Greensboro to Hillsborough. The traffic is thinner thanks to the state’s shelter-in-place rule.

I see quite a few 18-wheelers continuing to make their deliveries. I also see quite a few work trucks from construction companies, or landscaping firms, and HVAC companies, just to name a few. Two crew members in the front seats, two crew members in the back seats. 

Not a mask being worn by any of them. There is no social distancing in a truck, even the “king cab” size.

I stop by a grocery store to pick up office supplies. I wear my mask and one glove, feeling like a member of a weird Michael Jackson fan club, and go inside the store. I see plexiglass protection for cashiers. I see aisles with “One Way” signs to promote social distancing. What I don’t see are masks on the employees. Not many of them, at least. 

I recently received a call from a concerned Hillsborough resident who was upset by the lack of masks and gloves being worn by employees of a fast-food restaurant. Workers with no protective gear working behind the counter, barking out orders — over prepared food — to other employees.

I’m not naming names, but I do wonder why more isn’t being done? Why are these companies — who are likely investing in marketing campaigns championing the work of their frontline — and often lower-paid — employees, not making some of the most basic provisions for these workers? Why are they not doing more to protect their customers?

Can they not find masks? The CDC — and many medical experts — have said even wearing a scarf or bandana can help. The thing about the masks is my wearing one doesn’t do a lot to protect me from you. But it will do a lot to protect you from me.

In Greensboro, an auto repair shop manager reached out to a person on Facebook who had been sewing reusable facemasks. He ordered 40 of them for his technicians — who are considered essential, and who are getting in and out of people’s cars all day.

It was a simple gesture, but it showed some appreciation and concern from management for its employees and customers. Why are more companies not doing more or being more creative to protect their customers and employees?

I’m done. I’ll step down from my soapbox now. Be safe out there.