I receive a lot of emails from publicists pitching story ideas to journalists, and I ignore most of them.
But occasionally something catches my eye, and against my better judgment I recently found myself clicking on an email with “COVID Silver Lining” in its subject line.
I don’t see a lot of silver linings to COVID, and the email aroused my curiosity.
What could possibly be the upside to a pandemic that has killed over 400,000 Americans and upended all of our lives?
The answer made me laugh: cleaner homes.
According to the publicist, the pandemic has fueled a boom in cleaning supplies, as people stock up on surface cleaners, soaps and detergents in an effort to keep their living quarters germ-free.
My home isn’t any cleaner than it’s ever been, but even if it was, I doubt I’d see it as any great consolation as we approach the one-year anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival in New York.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t any silver linings to be found.
I can think of at least two: The holiday-related surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations has finally begun to subside, and the pace of vaccination is picking up.
Both trends suggest that a better future is on the horizon, and that we really will see a steady return to normal as the year progresses.
And while there’s certainly cause for concern – the emergence of new, more contagious COVID-19 strains is especially worrisome – it’s OK to be hopeful.
As Whet Moser, of The Atlantic magazine’s COVID Tracking Project noted, “the momentum is headed in the right direction: fewer hospitalizations, more vaccines.”
Moser was also quick to stress the need for caution, and rightly so.
On Wednesday Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that he would lift some of his more severe COVID-19 restrictions in response to New York’s improving numbers, but the state is hardly out of the woods and it would be a mistake to conclude that the threat of coronavirus has passed.
According to Moser, “Hospitalizations across the Northeast, though declining, have dropped just 11 percent in the past two weeks, the smallest decrease in any region. This indicates a point of concern: New York. It’s one of eight states with a hospitalization rate over 400 per million, and unlike the others, its recent hospitalization trajectory doesn’t yet suggest a peak.”
This is a reason to be careful – not to abandon hope.
The state’s vaccine rollout has had its hiccups, and there’s certainly room for improvement.
But I’m hearing from more friends and acquaintances who have received the vaccine, and I expect that soon these stories will be fairly commonplace.
According to the Cuomo administration, 96 percent of its first vaccine doses have been administered, and New York is on track to receive a 16 percent increase in its weekly vaccine doses.
If we keep making progress – and finding ways to speed up the vaccination process – the impact will be profound, restoring our freedom and peace-of-mind even as COVID-19 remains a presence in our communities.
As I said, I’m not that big on silver linings.
But they’re there if you look, and they provide a glimmer of hope for a pandemic-weary public.
Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.