Visitors Asked To Take Sensible
Steps To Protect Themselves, Us
By now you’ve heard about Rhode Island: Last Friday, it had state police stopping cars with New York license plates at the state line, and instructing passengers they must self-quarantine for 14 days if they planned to stay in Ocean State.
The next day, National Guard troops went door to door in coastal areas, advising any Empire Staters who
had gotten out of Dodge, NY, of the quarantine.
“I want to be crystal clear about this: If you’re coming to Rhode Island from New York, you are ordered into quarantine … More than half of the cases of coronavirus in America are in New York,” Gov. Gina Raimondo told the New York Post.
The other day, our friend (and columnist) Adrian Kuzminski forwarded a Washington Post article headlined: “A plea from rural America: Urban COVID-19 refugees, please stay home,” by David Yamamoto, county commissioner of Tillamook County, Ore.
“Thousands of urban visitors descended on our villages, with cars lined up for miles on highways to the coast. Once here, the out-of-towners swarmed our grocery stores and cleared the shelves,” he wrote.
He added later, “Near Mammoth Lakes, Calif., the tensions between locals and outsiders have gotten so bad that one of the county supervisors said recently she’s worried that ‘someone is going to get shot’.”
And, “This past week, the White House coronavirus task force asked everyone who’s recently left New York City to self-quarantine for 14 days after new infections started appearing in the Hamptons and other popular refuges in the area. The spread has made Long Island locals so angry that one suggested small-town residents should “blow up the bridges.”
By contrast, “Safer at Home,” a statement – see Page A4 – from the Otsego County Coronavirus Task Force released by county Board Chair Dave Bliss over the weekend, is mild, as befits our local situation. After all, many of the “out of towners” around here have been part-time residents – summers, holidays and weekends – for decades. They’re part of the picture.
A couple of the suggestions are fine, but probably unenforceable: How would landlords and hotel/motel operators ensure their tenants are “following Governor Cuomo’s, President Trump’s and the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines”?
Likewise, to require people traveling into the area to advise the county Health Department is undoubtedly admissible under the state of emergency, but how can we be sure they get the message and know who to call? The Health Department is a pretty busy place these days, and getting through the switchboard there isn’t always easy.
That said, the crux of the statement is solid: When you get to town, self-quarantine for 14 days. If fever, coughing and shortness of breath occur, call a doctor, or the Bassett hotline, 607-547-5555.
It’s hard to believe, but 14 days passed last Saturday, March 28, since Bliss declared the county a state of emergency to smooth out local implementation of state and national emergencies declared the day before.
Anyone who has punctiliously followed the recommendations – self-isolate, monitor members of the household, keep strangers at a 6-foot distance, wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer – are largely out of danger, as long as he or she continues to follow the recommendations.
But with state Sen. Jim Seward and his wife, Cindy, both coming down with coronavirus in the past few days, vigilance – as Bliss underscored – can’t be overemphasized.
The sad passing of our first neighbor, Brenda Utter, 56, of Morris on Thursday, March 26, is a case in point: Five days before, said her husband Phillip, she was fine. He’s tested positive, even though he has none of the symptoms.
We regular folks can’t be 100 percent sure of anything.
The good news is as of Tuesday morning, the New York Times was following the worst-case scenario in predicting 100,000 to 200,000 deaths.
A Wall Street Journal editorial, following the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, using the so-called Murray model, was estimating 81,114 deaths over the next four months, “with 95 percent confidence that the number would be between 38,242 and 162,106.”
So we’re not out of the woods yet, although there are signs things are turning around: New York State’s infections are growing, but the infection rate is dropping.
So there’s no reason to lose our heads.
In the New York Post, Governor Cuomo called Raimundo’s actions “reactionary” and unconstitutional, saying he’d sue Rhode Island if the policy isn’t rescinded but believed they could “work it out.”
“I understand the goal … but there’s a point of absurdity, and I think what Rhode Island did is at that point of absurdity,” said Cuomo. “We have to keep the ideas and the policies we implement positive rather than reactionary and emotional.”
“Reactionary and emotional,” that’s what’s most to be avoided. And the local Coronavirus Task Force’s statement clearly does that. As it seems in most every step the task force has taken to date, there’s reason for Otsego County to look to the future with expectations of hard time, but confidence things will get better, perhaps sooner than later.