JCPA Resource Center

EDITORIAL: Better way to say thanks


THIS ISN’T MUCH of an editorial. At the moment the job of plotting the future of The Columbia Paper–in print and online—is the priority.

More about that below. First, please join me in thanking Jack Mabb, the county director of public health, and Supervisor Matt Murell (R-Stockport), chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, for the clear, timely sharing of Covid-19 data and the local policy and procedures shaping our pandemic lives. Having the data, which is terrifying, is better than ignorance. Cling to the facts or drown in misinformation, distortions and lies.

Statewide, Governor Cuomo has set the tone. His actions and humanity reassure New Yorkers and the world that our democracy still produces effective leaders when we need them most.

The governor reminds us to remember the nurses and doctors, the first responders, pharmacists and technicians, the workers of all kinds who keep hospitals and nursing facilities operating. Some we know them by sight, carrying our mail, stocking the shelves, driving trucks full of food and toilet paper (it has to be going someplace!), handing us take-out meals, staffing food pantries and others too numerous to list.

The governor praises them as the indispensable force that holds this state together. We should follow his example. Say thank you, thank you…. But that alone is not enough.

Many of us spend less time now on the streets of the communities we left when the state enforced a “Pause.” The pause was meant to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. It appears to be working but the threat remains. Eventually we will reconnect, warily, our communities will have changed. It’s likely, for instance, we won’t be released all at once from the obligation to practice social distancing.

So will it matter that we say thank-you now to people who are making our lives as tolerable as possible as the pandemic swarms? It a sentiment that doesn’t match the scale threat. Where’s the proof that we’re grateful?

Consider this: Supervisor Murell said this week that a cellphone tracking system found the county rated a grade of “D” for the sloppy way people here practice the life-saving tactic of social distancing.

Really? You mean it’s too hard stand at least 6 feet from the people around you? (Stand further than that from anyone who who is coughing or sneezing.) Are we so densely populated now that we can’t find the space to be safe?

Some people do have jobs that make it impossible to maintain social distance. But it’s not likely their dilemma earned us a D.

The governor speaks about optional bad behavior in his daily briefings on the pandemic. He says the only thing standing between us and even more deaths from Covid-19 is social distancing. If you know someone who decides not to be bothered to keep at the recommended social distance, that person is gambling with the lives of other people. How so? Because if someone–you—decides not to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet you’re more likely to become infected. And your infection will infect others. Maybe you’ll become ill but recover. Others might not be so lucky. Which one of them would you like to share your virus with? A friend? A stranger? One of the people who deserve our thanks? Not a great way to show your gratitude.

Maybe you didn’t realize how important it is to keep your distance. But excuses are no longer valid. The information is easy to find. There is plenty we don’t know about this particular coronavirus, including all the ways it spreads. But evidence from this pandemic and similar illnesses in the past reveals that quarantines and strictly maintaining social distances can slow the advance or even stop it. Until we have a vaccine that can prevent it or drugs to control the disease, observing social distances and a few other practical steps like wearing masks are all we have. So say thank-you and show your gratitude by keeping you social distance.

Now, on that other topic: of the future of this enterprise. We learned this week that because of the way The Columbia Paper is structured, with independent contractors, we aren’t eligible for the federal CARES Act loan and grant to pay salaries. Maybe it’s best that news organizations don’t go into debt to the government. It does make the journey toward having both the printed paper and the website a little more complicated. But the website has more news and features than ever. We’re delighted to welcome all our new online readers.

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