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Mayor Arrigo Op-Ed: A Long Road Behind Us, A Longer Road Ahead

April 23, 2020

It’s now a month that our favorite restaurants, gyms, theaters, and gathering places have been shuttered.  For the most part, we’ve stayed indoors, isolated from relatives and friends. Zoom conferences have become the closest thing to face-to-face contact with business associates.  When we venture out for basic necessities like food shopping, we wait, distant and wary of the others in line.

It is understandable that our current state of mind runs the gamut from depression, discouragement, and worry, to restlessness, to boredom and frustration.

Unfortunately, it’s going to be this way for a while.  I wish I could tell you something different, but we must never let truth become a casualty of Covid-19. The truth, right now, hurts.

Schools are closed for the remainder of the school year.  Pretty much all public activities scheduled for May and June are, or will be, cancelled. We are probably months away from seeing our favorite professional sports teams return to action—if they return at all this season.  The summer of 2020 will be unlike any we have ever experienced.

Right now, we are in the throes of the “surge” that public health authorities have predicted for weeks.  This means that the number of positive Covid-19 diagnosis will continue to grow.   It means that hospitalizations will increase.  And, sadly, it means that many more people will die.

If you have any doubts about the severity of our circumstance, reread the previous paragraph.

Our best efforts at quarantine and the habit of washing hands, keeping distant, wearing face coverings, and cleaning surfaces can keep those terrible statistics within some sort of acceptable empirical computation, but nothing will reduce the reality of personal suffering that underlies those growing numbers. That is sober reality.

But the small steps each of us takes will lead us through these treacherous times. When we consider the consequences of this disease, the sacrifices we are asked to make are small, indeed.

The sacrifice everyone has made during the last month has helped our medical community withstand the crush of Covid-19 illness.  People are alive because each of us took the warnings to heart and followed the guidelines that have been trumpeted for weeks.

But if we do not persevere with our sacrifice, then all of it will be wasted.  We still face a disease that has no cure and can spread rapidly and wildly from people who aren’t even aware they carry it.

The news stories tell us that some people have decided that the sacrifice, the restraint on personal liberty, the inconvenience of it all just isn’t worth it. They’ve decided, recklessly, that a face covering and social distancing is meaningless.  Such irresponsible behavior is a menace.

Keep this in the forefront of your mind:  those who flaunt and ignore the public health restrictions are a danger to you, just as surely as if they pointed a loaded gun at you.  Arrogant disregard for public health precautions imperils you and your family.  It can kill.

As the nicer weather arrives in the coming months, it will be more challenging for all of us to follow the restrictions that have protected us thus far.  While we take heart that self-quarantine and social distancing has helped slow the spread of Covid-19, it is imperative that every one of us appreciate that we must continue these practices. Even as some government-ordered restrictions are relaxed in the coming weeks, we cannot and must not relax our personal vigilance and caution.  As the steps we have taken to this point have been careful, so also must every step ahead of us be taken wisely.  Washing hands, social distancing, wearing a mask—every act helps.

Covid-19 already has taken a terrible toll on our public health, our economy, and our psyche.  The anguish is real, and takes a different form for everyone.  But there is strength, and survival, when we join together.  Our community has responded bravely to the dire calls for sacrifice, and I trust we all will continue to do so.

Like every one of you, I dream of the time that this will be behind us, that life resumes a pace where we are unafraid of what lurks ahead.  That time is not at hand today, but as we keep taking small and careful steps together, that time will arrive.

-Mayor Brian M. Arrigo




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Patrick M. Keefe Jr.
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