Alpharetta made national news last week, and for all the wrong reasons.

Well, that was my take, but there were certainly those who felt the opposite.

The Washington Post article was titled ‘’This feels great, A preview from Georgia about how America might reemerge from the coronavirus: Eating, drinking, touching and throwing caution to the wind.”

It detailed life at the Avalon development near downtown Alpharetta. What stores were opening, what precautions were being taken, what sorts of shoppers were out and what they were buying.

Georgia was one of the first states to “reopen” for business, so it makes sense that news outlets are keeping tabs on us to see how things are going. Hypothetically, the degree to which business bounces back or to what extent the virus remains or resurges may be a useful model for states to monitor as they develop their own reopening plans.

A running theme of the article was how and if people were wearing masks.

The reporter detailed how most were not and very few were social distancing.

One woman is quoted as saying “If I was to get it now, I’ve got a 90 percent chance of getting cured. Also, I don’t know anybody who’s got it.”


You won’t find a single doctor who would advise you to do something you don’t have to that comes with a 10 percent chance of dying.

Beyond the disregard for self-preservation, the thing that bothered me most was the lack of empathy for the workers making their trip to Avalon possible – the cashiers, janitors, waiters and shelf stockers.

Not a single person even acknowledged that their escape from home quarantine came with new responsibilities to keep the people around them safe. Wearing masks isn’t just for you. It’s for them, too.

I know Alpharetta. I have lived here for 30 years. I am confident the people quoted in the article are, by and large, not representative of the kind, caring and empathetic people that want me to keep my family and business rooted here.

At Appen Media we have written dozens of articles detailing the good deeds that people in the community have performed to help others during this crisis.

Yes, everyone wants to get on with their lives. Yes, people need and want to go back to work. Yes, businesses cannot afford to remain shuttered while we wait for the vaccine.

And yes, I am tired of the binary choices presented to us from politicians. There is a way to both safely reopen shops and protect the workers inside them while also minimizing risks of spreading or contracting the virus.

Businesses have an obligation to create a safe environment for employees and customers. By all accounts, the management team at Avalon has done that. But we as patrons of businesses have an obligation to each other, too.

Practice social distancing, wear a mask in public, tip your servers more than you usually do, shop local – just to name a few.

We will not be safe from this virus until a vaccine arrives. Until then, is it too much to ask that we show each other some respect?


Hans is Publisher of Appen Media Group and oversees all operations of the multimedia news company headquartered in Alpharetta, GA.

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