Let’s be careful; COVID is here

The welcome sign at Lake Placid's large municipal parking lot on Main Street Tuesday, July 28 reminds visitors of COVID-19 precautions they should be taking during the coronavirus pandemic. (News photo — Andy Flynn)

We love to travel and get together with friends — especially in summer. After six months of winter hibernation when we hardly see our neighbors, the warm summer sun compels us to get out, get about and socialize.

But right now, sadly, is a time when it’s usually best to resist that urge.

While the North Country is still doing better than most of the U.S. on the pandemic — still no deaths recorded in either Essex or Franklin County — we have to keep it that way. We don’t want to screw up the relatively good thing people have sacrificed so much for.

There was a rise in COVID-19 cases last week: 12 new ones in Franklin County — including four new ones confirmed Tuesday — and five new cases in Essex County. And we can’t pass the blame to tourists, who are with us in force these days. Rather, county health officials say the new COVID-19 patients are local residents, and the spread took place via gatherings and travel.

Meanwhile, a big party in Altona and a boat outing in Akwesanse were mentioned as events at which the coronavirus spread and infected multiple North Country residents. We know people in the Tri-Lakes area have been attending boat outings, parties, campfire gatherings and more. As time goes on and our area has not seen a spike in cases, people have gradually become less vigilant.

It seems we have been getting lucky, but there is no reason to believe that luck will last.

Tourists are not off the hook, either. By traveling, they are increasing risk to others and themselves. If their laxity leads to sickness and death, they should be held accountable for that.

The virus is around us. More than 148,000 have died from COVID-19 out of more than 4.3 million confirmed cases nationwide, as of Tuesday. The people carrying it usually don’t know they have it and haven’t shown any symptoms. They may never even get sick, but the person they pass it to might not be so fortunate.

All it takes is for one of those people to show up at a backyard campfire, a party in the woods, a church service or a restaurant or bar, and a lot of other people could get sick and possibly die.

No one needs to panic. We don’t even need to change what we do all that much. We can still get out and do things, but we need to be smart and careful. Let’s just dial it back a bit and think twice about traveling or going to gatherings.

For the most part, people here are wearing masks and social distancing. That, and the fact that we have the same strict rules as the rest of New York state, is probably why we still have low COVID-19 numbers compared to the rest of the nation. Thank you to so many people doing their part to keep all of us safe.

If we are truly grateful and care about other people, we won’t blow it by being overconfident.

In some cases, these will be hard choices. In other cases, it’s really not very hard. It’s obviously not worth catching or spreading the coronavirus just to go to a party, for instance.

For the most part, we will get other chances to do things we enjoy. As the Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes said, “To every thing there is a season.” Let’s all make now the season for starving this virus out.