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To be safe, be prudent

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks during a briefing after a Coronavirus Task Force meeting at the White House on April 5, 2020. Fauci said Tuesday that scientists were still at "almost the beginning" of understanding what makes this coronavirus so deadly and transmissible. Credit: AFP via Getty Images/ERIC BARADAT

Let’s not be stupid.

Long Island on Wednesday moved into Phase 2 of reopening from the coronavirus pandemic. And it feels good. Really good. Congratulations are in order for all who did their part to drive the number of infections way down.

But also in order: caution.

We’ve come a long way from screaming ambulance sirens, overflowing intensive care units and a tight lockdown of our economy and our lives. No one wants to go back. But we might, if we don’t keep being smart. Look at what’s happening in other states that reopened earlier.

  • New cases are rising in 21 states, with 14 setting new daily highs. Nine states — Arkansas, Arizona, California, Mississippi, Oregon, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah — are reporting increased hospitalizations since Memorial Day, around when many states began easing restrictions.
  • Vermont has a growing cluster of 70-odd cases, more than 20 of whom are children, in one “social network of families” since Memorial Day.
  • A Pennsylvania county has traced 12 new cases to one infected New Jersey resident who during the last two weeks spread the virus at Jersey Shore beach house parties; new infections are expected among family members of those infected.
  • Worldwide numbers continue to rise; four days in June have topped the previous daily high, with cases spiking in places like Brazil, Russia and India.

The new figures don’t even reflect possible fallout from huge protests since the death of George Floyd. Experts who have given passes to marchers while criticizing other large gatherings are being hypocritical. Many marchers and police have worn masks, which does mitigate the risk of transmitting the virus, but they still face an increased risk and everyone involved should be upfront about that. If you were present at a march, please get tested.

The rising numbers underscore why Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday that scientists were still at “almost the beginning” of understanding what makes this coronavirus so deadly and transmissible. He said real safety won’t come without a vaccine, warning, “It isn’t over yet.” Which makes unfathomable President Donald Trump’s decision to begin holding big rallies next week in Oklahoma, most likely without social distancing or mask requirements, his campaign says.

This moment calls for continued discipline and toughness. Our new freedom is wonderful but it travels hand-in-hand with prudence. Summer is upon us, the outdoors is calling, people want their old lives back. That’s understandable. Venture out. Enjoy. But be smart. For your sake and everyone else’s. Each of us can see people who have gotten complacent and taken off their masks. That’s wrong.

Medical advice sometimes has been contradictory but that’s not a reason to stray from what’s worked. Many of us are looking ahead to the fall and schools reopening, and a resumption of our routines. Lax behavior now can make that impossible.

Another lockdown would be devastating. Let’s keep acting like we want to avoid that.

— The editorial board

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