Long Islanders are resilient. Whatever life throws at us, from storms to recessions, we rebound.
And we’re doing it again. The coronavirus staggered us in the early spring but we’re fighting back, wary yet optimistic, hardened by our recent experience but buoyed by our history of recovering from devastating blows, expecting the virus to resurge but confident we’re better prepared now to handle it. That’s the picture painted by a survey of 1,043 Long Islanders conducted by YouGov on behalf of nextLI, a Newsday initiative that seeks to stimulate discussion of public policy questions on Long Island.
Most of us were deeply affected by COVID-19 and we’re still concerned. More than 7 in 10 Long Islanders worry the virus will have a long-lasting negative impact on the region, that a family member or friend might become seriously ill or die from it, and that education — of their own children and others — will suffer because of it. More than half worry their personal finances will be severely affected. Other troubling concerns for our regional economy: 41% won’t go to sporting events or concerts for another year, and more than 1 in 3 won’t use public transportation or go to New York City for leisure for at least a year. But that dark picture contains brighter streaks.
Two-thirds of Long Islanders say our situation here is improving and that we’re prepared for another pandemic, and more than half expect the region’s economy to be stable or growing in 12 months. That patience, that willingness to look beyond the short term, will help Long Island deal with COVID-19 because as the crisis continues so must our willingness to combat it. With nearly 90% of us expecting a second wave in the fall, nearly every Long Islander claims to be wearing a mask in public. Hopefully, that means every time they’re in public.
Policymakers take note: Large majorities said the region was not prepared for the pandemic in areas like education, transportation and public health. Despite giving good marks to local governments for their virus response, more than half worry the region still is unprepared to ensure essential workers have child care coverage or to help people in economic distress in another pandemic. And with only half saying they will receive a vaccine if one becomes available, preparations must begin for driving up that number.
But one of the most profound findings in the survey is that the crisis has forced Long Islanders to dig deep into their own lives, with fascinating and comforting discoveries.
Most of us have more respect for health care workers and teachers, more knowledge of how food and goods reach us, more awareness of our own health, and more compassion for others. We’ve strengthened our relationships with those who matter most, and realize we don’t need as many material things in our lives. And we expect to make changes — buying local more, saving more money, and especially working more from home, with two-thirds of those who have worked remotely at some point during the pandemic saying they found a better balance between work and life.
All of that should make us even more resilient, for the crisis still buffeting us and the ones that surely will follow.
— The editorial board