With the nation in chaos over the public protests spurred by the death of George Floyd and the racial implications of police brutality, it’s easy to forget that we’re still in the middle of a dangerous and deadly pandemic.
At the same time as all this has been happening, states including our own have slowly moved ahead with reopening the economy.
Today, our area begins Phase 2 of the state’s four-phase reopening plan.
Several categories of businesses will be allowed to reopen today, with rules in place to stem the spread of the virus. The list includes office-based jobs such as professional services, administrative support and information technology; real estate offices; in-store retail (not malls); vehicle sales, leases and rental shops; limited-service barbershops, hair salons and nail salons; and commercial building and property management.
That’s a lot of new opportunities for people to interact. And it’s lot of new opportunities for people to spread and contract the coronavirus.
The virus might appear to be hibernating, with numbers of new hospitalizations, cases and deaths in New York on the wane.
But we can’t be lulled into a false sense of security by forgetting how rampant this disease was just a few weeks ago.
Nearly 25,000 New Yorkers are dead because of this virus among 108,000 Americans.
We’ve seen places around the country and the world that have reopened too quickly experience spikes in new cases. And officials say it could be a few weeks after reopening before we see the full impact in the numbers.
If we slough off on our precautions, we will likely find ourselves right back where we were when this all started just a few months ago.
If that happens, businesses will have to shut down again; hospitals and nursing homes will again become overcrowded with patients; our medical professionals will again become overwhelmed; hospitals won’t be able to offer elective surgeries again; and we won’t be able to move on to the remaining two phases in which more long-waiting businesses can reopen.
Remember, there’s still no cure, treatment or vaccine. And the disease, according to experts, isn’t weakening as time goes on.
Just because things appear to be back to normal doesn’t mean the virus is letting up.
So keep social distancing from one another. Keep washing your hands frequently. For goodness sake, wear a mask when you’re around people. Yes, they can be uncomfortable and hot. But they’ve proven to be effective in helping stop the spread of the disease. Only make necessary trips to the store. Continue to work from home as long as you’re allowed.
Without taking this seriously again, we could quickly go from Phase 2 to a complete shutdown, along with seeing many more people getting sick and dying.
As more businesses open, now is not the time for complacency.
The risk is still too high.