LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
By RICHARD STERNBERG • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
On Sunday, a friend of mine was talking to a family from South Carolina. They told him how bad it was down there now and how great it was up here and how we had beaten the virus.
They talked for a while, then walked away down Main Street. None of them were wearing masks, nor knew if they had the disease and could be spreading it. Nor had they quarantined for two weeks after arriving in New York. Now multiply this by a hundred.
Locally we did a great job of containing COVID-19. We went weeks without a case until recently a few cases popped up. Effectively the whole area had quarantined itself.
Recently there were cases. They had to be coming from the outside. And they will keep on coming.
There really is only one way to beat this disease and that is to prevent it from establishing itself. We have to keep it out.
If we can’t control the SARS-CoV-2 virus, it will run through the entire population, and locally we have a population which has a high percentage of people with risk factors.
I have presented the need for strict enforcement of the laws regarding social distancing and mask wearing to the Cooperstown Village Board of Trustees of which I am a member. If necessary, add local laws to augment state laws.
Among the responses I’ve gotten from village government are:
- We can’t be any stricter than the governor. (Wrong)
- We can’t figure out who needs to be wearing a mask and who doesn’t have to wear a mask. (Not necessary if everybody has to wear a mask.)
- And, we don’t have enough police. (True, if you think you’re going to get a 100 percent citation rate, but that expectation is not held of any crime or misdemeanor.)
The Village has put up a difficult-to-read sign across Main Street and ordered posters and magnets asking people to please wear a mask and social distance.
The time to ask nicely is gone. More and more cars with out-of-state license plates are showing up in Cooperstown. I doubt any are quarantining for the requisite 2 weeks. The genie may already be out of the bottle.
There is a fine up to $1000 for failing to social distance or wear a mask. If we want to save our lives and health, and that of our families, we must stop the virus from getting lose in our community. Enforce this law now.
I strongly urge all of you who have concerns in this regard to contact your local representatives by phone, email and in writing, and by presenting at board and council meetings and speaking during public comments. Let them know that you want local officials to get ahead of an outbreak that went into overdrive elsewhere without warning and what you want and what you expect. In the villages there are elections coming up.
Right now, any government argument that has been encountered is really no excuse for not protecting the health of one’s citizens. Especially when it’s so cheap and easy to do. Let the people you have elected know, firmly and frequently, what you want and make sure they know how much you want it.
Richard Sternberg, a retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, has agreed to provide his professional perspective while the coronavirus threat continues. Dr. Sternberg, who is also a village trustee, resides in Cooperstown.