As states begin to reopen across the country, you realize how different each state is.

The new normal is different depending on what state you're in. New York has been pretty slow on its reopening, which makes sense. We were the state with the highest COVID-19 caseload at one point and now we're one of the lowest. But this wasn't by coincidence. New York State had a lot of restrictions about what businesses could be open, mandatory social distancing and masks, and stay-at-home orders. Now, different businesses are allowed to open, but the social distancing and masks still remain. Traveling to another state that didn't have those mandates made me realize how happy I am New York State does.

I didn't go to a state like Texas or Florida where COVID-19 is tearing through and having major spikes in caseloads. I went to Pennsylvania, which was one of the states that shut down at the same time as New York. Pennsylvania has a three-phased reopening process. I went to Pittsburgh, which is part of Alleghany County, that is in the green phase. I don't know what it means for all businesses, but indoor dining was allowed. At restaurants, some required masks, some didn't. Some socially distanced, some didn't. Some limited capacity and some didn't. I won't deny that it's weird going to a restaurant and seeing staff in masks and people totally spread out, but it makes me feel so much safer. There is a pandemic going on right now. This is a disease that travels in the air. A mask is the simplest and easiest way to stop the spread. So seeing customers go into restaurants with no mask bothered me because the staff is having a hard enough time with this, and now you're potentially bringing a disease in. But I don't think there's a mandate for it, so the customer *technically* is doing nothing wrong.

You have heard and read about how I feel about masks (which is pro). I didn't realize how uneasy I would feel seeing a lot of people without masks, because I've been so used to New Yorkers wearing them (well for the most part). I stopped at an Arby's in PA on my drive home and literally no employee had a mask that covered their nose. In case you didn't know, that defeats the purpose of wearing a mask. I know it sucks wearing a mask, but being on a ventilator sucks even more.

I don't see myself traveling out of state again anytime soon. I didn't realize how grateful I was that New York State has a mask mandate and social distancing rules. We're in a pandemic and it's scary, and I'm feeling much more comfortable being in New York right now than anywhere else.

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