The coronavirus crisis is reaching a critical juncture this weekend.
First, it’s the last long weekend of summer, and the weather is supposed to be delightful.
That means people will be tempted to get their friends and families together for one last summer gathering. People will want one last visit to Lake George or other tourist areas. Young adults will want one last summer party.
On top of that, many kids are getting ready to go back to school.
College-age students are either preparing to go back, or in some cases like with SUNY Oneonta students, being sent home to rejoin their families and learn remotely. They won’t be the last, if early evidence from colleges around the country is any indication.
And late September-early October is the traditional beginning of flu season, which could create what some are calling a “twin-demic,” a co-mingled outbreak of two powerful and potentially deadly viruses at the same time.
Despite the very optimistic projections about a covid vaccine, many thousands of people will still get the virus and still die from it before the first inoculations become available.
A renewed outbreak means a potential return to mass hospitalizations. It means more stresses on our hospitals and nursing homes. It means more pressure on our doctors and nurses and first responders. It means the potential for shortages of ventilators and personal protection equipment and ICU beds.
It might mean a return to shortages of basic items at stores, like toilet paper and hand-sanitizer and food.
Given the very strong possibility that the virus will see a revival as we all begin to cluster indoors for the fall and winter, what we do as citizens in the next few weeks, starting this very weekend, could help determine how badly the coronavirus comes back.
Let’s see if any of us have learned anything over the last six months.
Holidays weekend are notorious for fueling spikes in cases. We know that after Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
Rather than allow ourselves to let our guard down for one more long summer weekend, we need to step up the mask-wearing and the social distancing.
We need to rededicate ourselves to washing our hands and disinfecting surfaces. We need to remind ourselves that as much as we’d like our kids to see grandma and grandpa, the risk to the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions such as pulmonary issues, diabetes is still as high as it was when this whole thing started.
Given everything that’s at stake, and given the convergence school openings and the flu and the return to indoor life, we have to stay vigilant.
If you think it’s bad now, just remember how bad it can get.