DID YOU THROW it away yet? The question really should be plural: Did you throw Them away? Let’s hope nobody has just one mask. It only seems that way when you’re trying find the cleanest one.
This is written on the eve of Maskless Wednesday, May 19, the day Governor Andrew Cuomo, based on the latest recommendations from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has set for fully vaccinated people in New York State to remove their masks outdoors and some other places.
You can go inside or into a crowd if you maintain social distancing and wear a mask but aren’t vaccinated. You can also go to those places if you’re fully vaccinated. And the places you can go are supposed to determine whether you are telling the truth about your vaccination status.
What’s the best way to determine who’s “FV” and who’s not? It’s an important question for organizations like the Columbia County Fair and all sorts of local arts and entertainment venues desperate to exit safely from pandemic exile. But at this point they don’t know whether they’re on the honor system or they will need to hire a crew phony-vaxer bouncers. Will the government create a whole new Homeland Security agency, The FVI?
The problem is not the science. The evidence shows that the vaccine curbs the threat of the illness. The challenge now has two parts: 1. getting more people, including younger children, vaccinated; 2. delivering clear and scientifically correct advice that doesn’t increase confusion.
To be considered fully vaccinated you are supposed to have had your second injection of a two-dose Covid-19 vaccine more than two weeks earlier. States determine how and when businesses and public spaces open up again. There is no federal agency tasked with forcing people get vaccinations, although you can easily find that kind of disinformation online. We’re learning how to recover as we’re doing it. There are bound to be some missteps along the way.
Everybody wants the virus to stop intruding in our lives. What’s new that we are embarking on a new public health experiment to see how far we can reopen without missing the chance to eradicate this plague and instead prolong the sickness, death, fear, confusion and grief that the virus leaves behind.
Don’t take my word for it. The numbers are small here, but we’re a small county. Last week a nursing and rehab facility in Valatie had an outbreak of Covid-19 last week; 11 residents and 8 staff were infected with the virus. At the same time the county Department of Health recorded 6 new positive cases of the virus and five county residents were hospitalized as a result of the virus, up from zero last week. These are our neighbors.
The State of Emergency declared by Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell based on the pandemic has been extended until June 12. These are signs that we have more to do before we overcome Covid-19.
If you’re vaccinated, don’t throw your masks quite yet. Be thankful have them. Sometimes they still come in handy if you need to keep yourself safe from the coronavirus.
If you’re not vaccinated, consider it your civic duty. If you need assistance is encouraged to contact the county call center Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The number is 518-697-5560.