The predicted second wave of COVID-19 has arrived.
Of that, there can be no doubt. While Cheshire has fared better than many other communities, as was reported a week ago by Chesprocott Health Director Maura Esposito, the cases are rising and the town, as of Monday, was considered in the “red zone” for virus outbreak.
No one wants to go back to the way things were in March and April, and it’s doubtful that the public in general would even have much of a stomach for such forceful lockdowns that come with no timeline attached. That leaves Cheshire, state, and national leaders as a whole in a bit of a dilemma.
On the one hand, people must be encouraged to do the simple things that we know help mitigate the spread of the virus. Wearing masks, washing hands, and avoiding crowds or close contact with individuals are all ways in which we can help to keep the virus at bay and our families as safe as possible.
Public health officials have a duty to continue reminding residents of the dangers and the need to stay vigilant, especially when it appears that some are becoming lax in taking precautions. At the same time, local, state, and federal leaders, whether politicians or public health officials, would do well to remember that what is being asked of the general population is not easy. People are, for the most part, doing the best they can.
Yes, some are not taking the virus as seriously as perhaps they should, but most are. Go to a local store, visit a restaurant, or just walk around town and you’ll see the vast majority of people wearing masks. Major events in people’s lives have been postponed or canceled. Jobs have been lost. Businesses have closed or are hanging on by a thread.
As we approach Thanksgiving, many have already decided to dramatically alter their usual gatherings or cancel them outright. Doing so is not easy for most. Life never guarantees another one of anything — another hour, another day, another year. For many, this will turn out to be the last time they’ll have an opportunity to be with the ones they love for the holidays.
So, a certain level of sympathy should be mixed with calls for renewed vigilance. Those resistant to such recommendations aren’t acting irrationally. They are expressing the obvious and understandable frustration at having to give up something important to them … a moment in time they may never get back.
And we should never give in to the temptation to view a positive COVID-19 test as the sign of a person’s irresponsibility. It should not become the “scarlet letter” of our time, worn as some indication that a protocol was ignored or science was disbelieved. One can take all the recommended precautions and still get the virus. That’s the way the world in general and illness in particular work.
We all need to be smart about our behavior and do what we can to stay safe. But our leaders should always remember that people are doing what they can under extraordinary circumstances, and that’s deserving of sympathy and understanding, not disappointment.