Over the past month, there has been plenty of optimism in New York when it comes to COVID-19.
We had paid our dues with a sudden and severe lockdown for a little more than two months, and with the best weather of the year upon us, we started slowly and methodically reopening in the Hudson Valley, starting the day after Memorial Day.
Many of us could turn our thoughts to perhaps salvaging something of summer, modified pool and beach schedules, outdoor dining and maybe even watching our favorite baseball team on TV for a couple of months, all with the comforting thought that the worst was behind us.
But now, as the COVID-19 pandemic ravages more than half of the states across the nation, there have been all sorts of renewed worries. But we could explain that it is those states that haven’t taken it seriously, and were now paying the price. No masks, premature reopening, anti-science, anti-common sense.
This is New York, we’re smart and we had learned the hard way when not only the state but New Rochelle was the nation’s early hot spot.
The optimism has been shattered with, among other things, the fallout from the June 20 Horace Greeley High School graduation. Failure to social distance, too many people getting out of their vehicles to mingle and too few masks has spawned at least 14 infections as of Monday.
This isn’t to impugn the Greeley graduates and the adults who let it happen. There were plenty of communities in the last couple of weeks in Westchester and Putnam counties that had graduation ceremonies scheduled, and even if the protocols were more or less being followed, you could easily find guidelines that were flouted.
But these are healthy young people, you may reason. Surely, for one night they could take a brief break from an unprecedented pandemic on the night of their high school graduation. It won’t hurt them.
Except it can – and will. It’s about the realization that if you let your guard down with COVID-19, even for one night or a couple of hours, there may be a reckoning.
As surges in infections are taking hold in more than 30 states across the United States right now, society has to come to grips that this battle with COVID-19 is a long-term fight. It’s not going to be over just because you want it to be over or you’re tired or bored.
Every generation has had its challenges, some greater than others. For some of our fathers and grandfathers, it meant being shipped off to a foreign land at 18 years old, and them not knowing if they would return alive.
Today, we’re asked to wear a mask when within shouting distance of others, sit at least six feet apart and wash our hands. Put that in perspective.
With so many states struggling to beat back the virus, there’s legitimate fear that some of those cases will find their way back to New York, and we’ll have to relive the dark days of March and April. It’s a plausible concern.
The best way to make sure that doesn’t happen? Follow the guidelines, listen to the best available advice and don’t think you’re immortal.