Summer Life with COVID-19

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
Dr. Wayne Strouse

As we roll into summer, what can we expect with Covid still in our midst?

First, let’s give some credit. The people of Yates county have done a truly spectacular job of curtailing Covid. So far (as of 6/24) we have 7 deaths (all in Long Term Care), and 46 cases (only 3 of which are active). That’s an amazing “Report Card”! It occurred because everyone did their part. A special shout out to Yates County Public Health and especially to their infectious disease team of Deb Minor, Sara Christensen, and Chelsea Bailey. We owe these 3 nurses a big thank you.

Also credit goes to the local churches who understood the potential dangers. God’s work takes many forms, this time including not having in person church for a while.

I give credit to Aldi’s and Tops, two area businesses that serve a huge part of our community, and were adamant in enforcing the “no mask, no entry” rule. Many other local businesses, large and small did likewise and deserve our thanks.

Doctors and nurses often get credit at times like these. But I want to acknowledge the people who often get overlooked. People such as the supermarket workers, postal workers, the delivery people who brought us online merchandise, the cooks, packagers, and the curbside and “to go” delivery people, and our media people on the radio and at this newspaper—all of whom kept us alive, kept us fed, and kept us sane during these difficult times.

Now, as we open up more, we still need to be vigilant. Because we did such a good job, we have become an ideal place for tourists to come. Of course, that is good news for our tourism industry, but it also means we will be at increased risk for Covid. What better place for a tourist to come than an area with almost no Covid!

The problem is, these visitors are coming from areas with higher amounts of Covid, and may be carrying the virus and “importing” it to Yates County. We need to politely request that they socially distance and/or wear masks. They are here for a short time. We live here and will suffer the effects of Covid long after they are gone. Two weeks ago, I drove through downtown Penn Yan and saw a string of motorcycles outside one of our local bars. There were 15 or more patrons, crowded around the few outdoor tables, without masks. I’m just guessing, but I suspect they were not Yates County residents! 

We should model appropriate pandemic behavior to our visitors by social distancing and wearing masks ourselves, and ask others to do the same. If you see a local business that is not following the rules, you should bring it to the attention of the owner or manager, and if they don’t do anything, leave the building (and let the manager know why you are leaving). You can file a complaint electronically with the State at ny.labor.gov. Should a business fail to follow the reopening guidelines, it would be a violation of NY State law. The business can lose their alcohol license, be fined, or be forced to shut down. If the problem is widespread, the Governor can make the whole region go on tighter restrictions.

I realize that we are ALL tired of Covid, and that the restrictions and the changes in our lives seem like they have gone on forever. However, it is not anywhere close to being over. At this moment, we are winning the fight, but we have not won. We have shown we can get the upper hand on this virus, but we did that with masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing. If we fail to continue in this mode, Covid will be much obliged to reassert its presence.

Thanks to everyone who has done their part. Here’s looking to a safe, healthy, and yes, fun... summer!