The following was published as an editorial in the July 10 issue of The Greenwich Sentinel.
This week witnessed two incredibly welcome developments in the battle against COVID-19: Greenwich Hospital, once styled “ground zero” for COVID-19 cases in the State of Connecticut, reported it no longer had a single coronavirus patient; and on Tuesday State officials reported zero coronavirus deaths for the first time since March. This is wonderful news and should be celebrated by all.
Hats off to all the fantastic local health and emergency services professionals who worked tirelessly and at great personal risk to help achieve these results. They truly are heroes.
But let’s remember that this pandemic is not over. The virus is still highly contagious and may be mutating into something that now may sicken young people as it did not before. We must remain on guard and keep practicing smart measures to prevent it from taking hold again in our Town and State.
We are the last people on earth who would argue for government control of personal activities. That is a very slippery slope, and should be approached with great caution even in the face of a pandemic. Ben Franklin famously warned that “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Town and state leaders have tried hard to balance health and personal liberty concerns in the face of this challenge; recent developments suggest they have done so fairly successfully. We have great sympathy and empathy for the restaurants, barber shops, hair and nail salons and other small businesses who have been impacted so terribly by the shutdowns, and who are just now beginning to see some of their business and customers return.
We particularly applaud First Selectman Fred Camillo and the other members of Greenwich Town government for opening up Greenwich Avenue to outdoor dining. The sight of diners eating “al fresco” in the middle of the street is a happy one; it may be that the experience gets repeated annually in the summertime. We hope it does.
But we would offer one note of caution. In the midst of all the relief at early signs of success in this fight against COVID-19, it is possible to let down our guard too soon. We have noticed a lot of people walking in Town and enjoying the outdoor dining experiences without wearing masks or practicing social distancing. We find this worrying. As we now know, wearing a mask does not necessarily prevent the wearer from contracting COVID-19, but it does help prevent the wearer from infecting other people. While it appears to be the case that being outdoors and in sunlight makes it more difficult for the virus to infect others, being in close proximity to another person still puts that person at risk. So even if we are not personally concerned about getting sick from the virus, we should want to follow good health practices for the sake of others. It is the right, and kind, and considerate thing to do.
Worn properly, face coverings appear to be the most effective tool against the virus – in fact against any virus, including the flu and common cold. We believe that face coverings, along with frequent hand washing and avoiding touching our faces, are here to stay for some time (handshakes may now be a thing of the past). There are now many more options for face coverings that are more comfortable and more attractive to wear (a quick search of “buff face cover” on Amazon.com resulted in over 1,000 results).
So the means exist for each of us to do our part in this fight. Let’s give no quarter to this insidious foe. Let’s be considerate of others – our families, our friends, our neighbors and our visitors. Let’s celebrate each positive development as we wait for better treatments and a preventative vaccine, and keep our eyes on the prize.
To paraphrase a line from the TV series “The Lone Ranger” – “Who is that masked man/woman?” Today, the answer is “Someone who is considerate of you and your health.”