Residents in the D.C. area are seeing used personal protective equipment like masks and gloves on the ground instead of the trashcan.
Falls Church, Virginia, resident Greg Skrtic took pictures of all the trash he found while walking his dog in the neighborhood.
“It makes me angry. As a responsible citizen, I want to pick it up and throw it in the trash, but I don’t want to get close to it,” Skrtic said.
The litter isn’t limited to Falls Church. It’s found in Prince George’s County and Montgomery County in Maryland, in places like Walmart parking lots or residential neighborhoods.
“It doesn’t do any good. Yeah you’re protecting yourself, but you’re putting the rest of the community in danger,” Skrtic said.
Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services spokesperson Matthew Kaiser said he understands why people want to toss their PPE right away so as not to contaminate their cars.
“There’s definitely a degree of empathy. You can understand people are scared right now,” Kaiser said. “It’s really just adding a burden to other people’s lives if people don’t take care of their own litter.”
Littering laws differ depending on the state. In D.C. there’s a $75 fine or you can get arrested if you refuse to give your name and address. In Maryland, you can pay a $1,500 fine or face up to 30 days in jail. In Virginia, you can pay a $2,500 fine or face up to a year in jail.