LAKE STEVENS, Wash. — All Washington residents are under a state order to stay at home and not go out in public except for necessary tasks such as buying food and medicine and going to work at "essential businesses" to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

But Lake Stevens takes social distancing a step further: residents here are assigned days to run essential errands based on the first letter of their last name.

If your last name begins with an A, like Adams, through the letter M, like Miller, you’re assigned to take care of essential activities on even days. That would mean the A through M group goes out on March 26, 28, 30, etc.

People with last names that start with N through Z goes out on the odd days.

The idea, Lake Stevens Mayor Brett Gailey explained, is to lower the number of people out to reduce the chances of exposure to the virus.

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Though Gailey signed an emergency order with the rule, he said there’s no way for the city to enforce it. At this point, it’s a suggestion that he hopes residents will follow.

Lake Stevens resident Lisa Mull agrees.

“My last name starts with an M so I’m even days,” Mull said.

She chose March 26 to go to the grocery store as part of the order from the mayor. “I think it’s a great idea because if you’re not really supposed to go anywhere anyway, then it really shouldn’t affect you,” she said.

But not all people feel that same as Mull.

Dennis Weczorek, who’s assigned odd days, bucked the city's mandate and went to the grocery store on the 26th.

“Everyone is relying on voluntary compliance, so you know, how are you going to enforce it?” Weczorek asked.

He doesn’t mind the idea but said it’s just not right for this scenario.

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“I see that kind of a thing in a really dire situation, you know we’re in a Depression and people are shooting each other and everything else, trying to get stuff. So, I don’t know, right now it doesn’t seem like that good of an idea,” he said.

But the Lake Stevens residents KING 5 spoke to agreed that something needs to happen to keep everyone healthy.

“I’m nervous. I’m 75 years old. I’m nervous if I get it,” Weczorek said.

Mull is taking every precaution.

“I’ve got my gloves and these [face masks], I’ve got hand sanitizer. At home, I’ve got every kind of sanitizer you’d need. For the most part, I don’t go out at all,” she said.

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