We see striking images of empty streets in New York City, Europe, and China on the news and social media, but that’s not the case in Suffolk County, yet another hot spot for the COVID-19 pandemic. What we see on the East End is traffic and crowded beaches and parks. While many East Enders are taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, some are just not listening.
As a local newspaper, it is our job to keep the public informed. A quick drive to the beach by our reporters and photographers tells us that the rules of social distancing and wearing masks in public are just not being followed by everyone.
New York State has declared an executive order mandating the use of masks or face coverings in public. Signs stating this order line our roadways. If you’re leaving your house, please cover your face.
When the U.S. Surgeon General claimed in early March that masks are “NOT effective in preventing general public from catching Coronavirus,” it led to a spread of misinformation that was detrimental to the public and no doubt cost the lives of many Americans. We know better now, and we all must do our part.
East Hampton has called for more security at Montauk beaches, and has limited permits at town beaches, while Southampton Village continues to urge the use of masks. But if hordes of Long Islanders take a day trip to Montauk to hike Camp Hero, it becomes a public health issue.
We are lucky on the East End that most of our homes — sized mansion to cottage — have some type of yard or private outdoor space. When it comes to our public space: use it, don’t abuse it.
Previous generations were called upon to fight wars, while we are called upon to pause our lives, stay home, and wear a mask if we go out in public. The economic impacts of this virus are devastating, but there will be no business to go back to if the virus is still rampant. We need to continue taking all necessary precautions for our health care heroes, working tirelessly for our community who shouldn’t be exposed to another surge in cases.
It is up to state and local officials to figure out how to regulate the use of our outdoor spaces, but we need to act fast and together. The weather is only going to get warmer and residents more restless.
We see the best of this community in a time of crisis. East Enders are doing everything they can to help food pantries, health care workers, and small businesses. Let’s all do our absolute best.
We all need to take this seriously. We all need to save lives. Let’s not reverse all of the hard work we’ve done for a day at the beach.