Smile Politely

How to be a good citizen during a pandemic

Even though we are collectively “staying-at-home,” we are still interacting with the community and each other in various ways. Now, perhaps more than ever, our actions and the decisions we make affect not just our own lives, but the lives of others as well. It’s not always natural to go through life this way; many of us genuinely care about other people, and we try to be kind and courteous to those we encounter, but we are very rarely asked to think as collectively as we are now. Literally, the choices we make could affect another person in significant ways. This is a defining moment for all of us, community- and nation-wide.

As we’ve observed how folks in C-U are dealing with the current reality, we’ve developed a list of “dos” and “don’ts” when it comes to interacting with others during a pandemic.

Do: Go outside and enjoy nature.

We have marvelous forest preserves, parks, trails, and such through Champaign County. Getting outside and visiting them are a great way to maintain some sense of normalcy, get some exercise, and not feel so cooped up, especially as the days continue to get nicer. 

Don’t: Go with people that don’t live in your house, gather for picnics or pick up games, and/or play on equipment.

Yes, even when you go on walks/bike rides/runs. Find your own space with the people who live in your house, and put distance between you and others when you pass. We’ve started noticing caution tape wrapped around playground equipment, which is necessary, because up until that point people were still allowing their kids to play on it. Even if you’re outside, you still have to follow the rules, people! And yes, it sucks. It sucks that we’re headed into a spring (and potentially summer) where we can’t hang out with our people whenever we want and it’s terrible. Yes, it sucks to take your kids to the park and tell them they can’t play on the equipment, but it’s okay if they are upset for a bit. They’ll be fine. We know that as the weather gets nicer, there will be more of an urge to gather. We are social beings! But you should also want this to be over sooner rather than later, and that can’t happen if you’re having a neighborhood party.

Do: Support local food establishments and suppliers when you can.

We are getting quite cslose to farmers’ market season, and it remains to be seen how our beloved markets will adjust to this new normal. . Regardless, there are ways to support local farmers during this time. We’ve posted repeatedly about purchasing CSA shares. This is a great way to not only make sure you’re supplied with fresh produce, and other things, throughout the summer, but it helps these small farms have income they know they can count on. Sometimes you’re going to need to go to larger grocery stores to get everything on your list, but don’t forget about the smaller stores in town, like Common Ground and some of the international stores. Even Hopscotch is offering some bulk item necessities such as milk and eggs, and Rose Bowl has some necessities as well: canned goods, and Page Roasting beans, for instance. And of course, as you feel comfortable and are able, take advantage of many restaurants offering delivery and curbside pickup. 

Don’t: Grocery shop like nothing is going on.

Of course grocery store trips are going to be necessary sometimes. That’s why they’re open. But some of our grocery store experiences have been a bit baffling. Stores are doing what they can to help us with our social distancing and sanitary habits, we need to do our part as well. It’s time to wear a mask or some sort of face covering to the store. We know the Asshole-in-Chief said he wasn’t going to wear a mask, but if the CDC is recommending it, then do it. It feels weird, you look weird, but no one cares. Wash or sanitize your hands before going in. Utilize the wipes at the door to sanitize your cart. If at all possible, go by yourself. If you are a single parent and have young kids, this may not be possible, but there are way too many pairs and groups of adults shopping together. Other annoying behaviors that have been spotted: Going to the store to purchase one item, taking up the entire aisle so social distancing is impossible, touching things then putting them back. You can consciously make a choice to not do those things. 

Do: Pay attention to information coming from Champaign-Urbana Public Health District.

They are trained for this. They are experts in planning for and being a source of information and guidance during a disease outbreak. If you follow them on social media, you can get daily briefings, and you can find regularly updated interactive data, as well as press releases, daily briefings, and community resources on their website.

Don’t: Think that you know better than the experts, or worse, use your authority as someone in the medical field to misguide people.

Our local officials aren’t trying to deceive you. They aren’t trying to withhold information from you. They are doing their jobs, jobs that not one of us or you would like to be doing right now. Don’t be like this jerk, thinking you’re going to go rogue and just do this your damn self, ignoring all protocol that’s been set in place, then post people’s test results in Spotted in Chambana. 


Of course there are many other ways to be a good citizen. We have been, and will continue to, share these opportunities as they arise. Some do not have the option to stay isolated, so for their sake, please, as much as you can, just stay home and make good choices.  

The Editorial Board is Seth Fein, Jessica Hammie, Julie McClure, and Patrick Singer. 

Photo by Anna Longworth.

More Articles