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OpinionEditorial

Don't let NY's COVID-19 triumph turn to defeat

Wearing masks, as people above did on Sunday

Wearing masks, as people above did on Sunday in Port Jefferson, helps fight the spread of COVID-19. Credit: Morgan Campbell

We must remember that on nearly every day in April, just six months ago, COVID-19 alone killed more New Yorkers than the 427 that die on average in the state each day of all causes. From April 6 through April 17, it killed more than 800 of us daily.

We must remember, and remind one another of that horrible toll. As the cold weather sets in and the virus rages around us, we must continue to do what we know works, what New York showed could work, lest the infections and hospitalizations and deaths again begin to mount.

That’s how we’ll find the resolve not to throw house parties for 300 mostly unmasked high schoolers like the one in Farmingville Saturday that earned the homeowner a $2,500 fine from Suffolk County for violating Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order limiting gatherings to 50 people.

We must remember that COVID-19 has killed more than 33,000 people in the state and more than 4,200 on Long Island, so we can find the resolve not to hold or attend weddings like the 91-guest affair at the North Fork Country Club that is now blamed for 31 infections.

And we must remember that, by employing discipline and grit, New York buttoned up and went from having one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world to a minuscule infection and hospitalization level. We did the right thing in New York.

And now, across Europe and the rest of the United States, in places where caution has faded, restrictions have been loosened and fatigued people have become complacent, illness and death again rage. It does not have to happen here.

Forget about herd immunity. It’s increasingly likely this grail can’t be achieved, because immunity from COVID-19 does not last forever. Forget vaccines for now. They’ll likely be a godsend when they get here, if enough doses are distributed to enough people willing to take them and if they are effective enough. But they will offer no help for Halloween parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas gatherings and New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Forget the words of President Donald Trump, who says we "are rounding the corner." Forget the words of White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who claimed that COVID-19 deaths in the United States are declining (they are rising) and argued that the wave of illness sweeping Europe proves extreme precautions don’t work. Remember that Europe actually brought the pandemic under control with restrictions and precautions. But once those were set aside, the resurgence started.

Masks. Distancing. Staying home when possible, and limiting social gatherings. That’s how we keep schools open. That’s how we allow businesses to survive. That’s how we save loved ones.

The positivity rate is creeping up here. In New York City it hit 2.7% Thursday. On Long Island, it has reached 1.5%. In both places, it was under 1% just weeks ago.

Remember how we beat this. Refuse to let it beat us.

— The editorial board

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