Chesprocott Health Director Maura Esposito delivered good news last week when, during a meeting of the Board of Education, she essentially signed off on the District’s plan to reopen schools.
While acknowledging the obvious — that no plan is perfect — she predicted that the proposal, if adhered to, has a good chance of keeping COVID-19 at bay and allowing students to attend classes in person at least some of the time.
But one comment caught our attention. When talking about the possible effectiveness of school mitigation efforts, Esposito mentioned that the goal is to keep number low “until a vaccine” is approved. It’s a sentiment that seems to be shared by many, not just locally, but across the state and nation — that current mitigation efforts will have to stay in place until a vaccine is distributed.
What if a vaccine isn’t found for years? What if a vaccine isn’t found at all?
Some of the smartest minds in the world are at work trying to solve the problem of COVID, and hundreds of millions of dollars are being pumped into the effort. With so much intellect and resources dedicated to one goal, it stands to reason that a vaccine can, even will, be developed and in record time. Yet, medical breakthroughs do not materialize simply because people really want them to. If that were the case, the world would no longer be plagued by cancer, which kills approximately 600,000 U.S. citizens per year.
These things take time, they take know-how, and sometimes they take a bit of luck. .
That’s why, while local, state, and national leaders move into a new time of combating the virus, a more complete approach to mitigation, and a more difficult conversation about risk assessment, must be had. If a vaccine appears in the next few months and goes a long way towards solving the COVID problem, wonderful. If not, the Town, state and country must be ready to discuss what happens next.
It’s a conversation that has to happen at the state and federal levels, as it would be unfair to expect each municipality or health district to undertake such strategies on their own. Chesprocott, for instance, has been working around the clock since the beginning of the pandemic, with limited resources and manpower, to make sure that as many protocols are followed and as many precautions are taken by local businesses and institutions as possible.
They are the boots-on-the-ground in this pandemic.
It’s others, whether at the state Department of Public Health or elsewhere, who must begin to think about what life will look like with COVID ever-present. There must be a more cogent plan in place, one that doesn’t hang on a vaccine being found any time soon.
Connecticut has done a very good job of keeping the virus at bay these last few months, after COVID wrought so much havoc in April and May, but that success has come at a cost. It’s come at a financial cost, a mental-health cost, a quality-of-life cost. It’s a cost many have been willing to pay, but at some point the bill will get too high. We are rapidly approaching that point, and there needs to be a plan in place for when it happens.