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A word on masks and gatherings

Long Beach police patrol the city's boardwalk on

Long Beach police patrol the city's boardwalk on Wednesday. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Long Beach right to impose restrictions ...

We wish it hadn’t come to this. But it did, and the city of Long Beach was right to clamp down on gatherings on its beach and boardwalk. The reduced hours and access are sadly necessary after last weekend’s disturbing scene of hundreds of revelers on the beach not following guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing.

It is baffling that this kind of irresponsibility persists. We know these measures work. And we can see in real time the problems other parts of the country are having where social distancing and mask-wearing have been neither rule nor practice. That’s how the virus can creep back into New York, too. Infection rates for 20- to 30-year-olds increased from 9.9% to 13.2%, in just the last two weeks, according to state statistics. Elsewhere, California has now passed New York with the most coronavirus cases. Arizona and Texas have been hammered with new cases and hospitalizations. The intensive care units of 51 Florida hospitals are operating beyond peak capacity, though Miami is starting to stem the tide, which its mayor attributes to the city’s recent mask mandate.

Overall, the United States surpassed 4 million COVID-19 cases Thursday, with one-quarter of that total coming in the last 15 days. Hospitalizations are nearly back to their mid-April peak. Long Island has been there; we don’t want to go back.

Even President Donald Trump is now speaking positively about wearing a mask. It benefits not only you but also your family and friends. So when you’re out this weekend and beyond — in parks and beaches anywhere on the Island — please show you care about yourself and all of us. Wear a mask. 

...  And caution is a must at East Meadow rally

A big Long Island gathering spot this weekend is likely to be Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.

That’s the site of a Saturday “Back the Blue” event billed on Facebook as “The Largest Pro-Law Enforcement Demonstration In The Country.”

The exact scope and nature of this event is unclear, but musician Ted Nugent is expected to partake. It seems to be turning into a relatively static, 2-hour endeavor which could draw big crowds from around New York and beyond. That’s worrisome given the pandemic.

The right to assemble and protest are key American values, and it’s important they remain so. But there is a difference between marches in the streets with brief gatherings to listen to speakers and packed venues featuring entertainment, which are currently not allowed in New York. When organizers of events seek government permits, they must submit the details about crowd size and security, and as of now there is little known about the program other than details on social media.

The event’s Facebook invite calls for a peaceful and family-friendly event and organizers promote mask use in the event details. Those who attend must follow the rules. First and foremost, the county must protect residents from a spike in the disease.

We hope that this event doesn’t increase infections and keeps in mind that Long Island residents and police officers are drawn from all communities, races, and walks of life. 

— The editorial board