Ely’s latest relapse on the COVID-19 front is a classic example of how a relative handful of irresponsible people can create real problems for everyone. We recognize that there are still some people who refuse to accept the reality of the ongoing pandemic. We also recognize that some people don’t view it as a threat to themselves and are, therefore, not willing to take basic precautions, such as maintaining social distancing, wearing a mask when in public, and not attending large indoor gatherings.
Such people should recognize that none of that is really about them or what they choose to believe. The implications of their actions on others are undeniably real.
Their actions led to hundreds of students in Ely having to make the transition to distance learning yet again. That impacts the quality of their education and it’s a massive inconvenience to everyone involved, from parents to school staff to the students themselves. It meant the cancelation of the season for Ely’s basketball and hockey teams, denying those kids the opportunity to take part in the playoffs. It has inconvenienced employers who now have workers forced to stay home to watch children. It’s an inconvenience and financial blow to businesses, particularly restaurants, in Ely, many of which had just finally reopened to indoor dining, only to have to close their doors yet again due to the latest outbreak in the community. All of this is very real.
We understand. We have people here in the North Country for whom dismissing basic public health guidelines is about making a political statement. We have two words for those folks: Grow Up.
If you want to make a political statement, slap a bumper sticker on your car. Heck, put one on your forehead for all we care. Hang a QAnon flag from your front porch, wear a tinfoil hat, or put up a lawn sign. You might contribute to the spread of crazy ideas, but at least you won’t be making others sick or forcing schools or businesses to shut their doors.
The latest spike of cases in the area is so frustrating because we had made real progress in tamping down the virus here in the North Country. Schools had just returned to in-person learning, and restaurants were reopening. We were all looking forward to a summer that was, almost, maybe, an approximation of life before the coronavirus. Now, the latest spike throws all of that into doubt.
While we don’t know for certain, because of limited genetic testing, it seems likely that the latest surge in cases in our region is due to the spread of b.1.1.7, commonly known as the UK variant. This mutation of the original coronavirus is known to be more easily spread than the original version. Left unchecked, it could yield the worst surge in COVID cases yet to strike the North Country.
That’s why we all need to redouble our efforts to observe COVID-related restrictions. And why we all need to be making an appointment, if you haven’t already, to get your COVID vaccination. No, there aren’t microchips in the vaccines meant to track your whereabouts. People aren’t dying from their shots, as some of the social media loons like to claim.
We can get past the current pandemic, and get our schools and economy back to normal, but it will take all of us working together. We need everyone to follow the public health guidelines and get their vaccinations. In doing so, we’ll be denying the coronavirus the safe harbor it needs to survive and spread.
And we can’t be shy about defending our community. When you see people violating health guidelines, say something. If you’re aware of a big indoor party in the community, call out the hosts. A little public shaming would be just what the doctor ordered.
We can get past this and get back to a new normal, but it’s going to take a little longer to get there. And it’s going to take all of us recognizing that, regardless of our views of the coronavirus, the implications of reckless action will hurt everyone in the community. Let’s stand up for each other and get the job done.