WHERE WE STAND — DISCOURAGING TRENDS
COVID cases in New Rochelle are up. Way up. About 600 active cases as of this writing, a huge resurgence of the virus compared to the relatively placid summer months, when our active cases dropped below twenty. COVID continues to predominate in the more densely-populated southern half of the city, but the virus is present — and rising — everywhere. Unless we get back on the right track, the winter will be long and difficult, particularly if hospitalization rates begin to outstrip capacity.
In contrast to the previous spike in the spring, this time New Rochelle is not an outlier; our COVID caseload tracks with regional trends and is about what you would expect based on population. And, yet, because New Rochelle was one of the first communities in America to face and subdue the virus, our sense of frustration may be especially intense here. It feels awful to backslide.
SUCCESS AND FAILURE ARE IN OUR HANDS
The City’s leadership and I will continue working to disseminate public health information as accessibly as possible, implement State-directed restrictions, enforce rules when we observe violations, partner with not-for-profit and service organizations to address human needs, support struggling businesses, and model responsible behavior.
But, in the end, the actions of local government only go so far. COVID transmission is primarily a function of individual behavior, and that’s what counts most. After months of guidance from public health authorities, we all know what we’re supposed to do. It’s just that lots of us have gotten tired of doing it.
This is understandable. It is very hard to maintain a disrupted lifestyle week after week — painful to be separated from friends and loved ones, hard to say no to kids’ play dates, tiring to wear masks all the time, and weird to be hyper-mindful of our physical distance from other human beings. None of this comes naturally. But we’ve got to keep it up. Because the virus takes full advantage of our fatigue.
LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Despite the negative trends today, there is good reason to be hopeful about tomorrow. By almost every measure, we are better prepared for this challenge now than earlier in the year. Testing is widely available. Contact tracing protocols are in place. Treatment is much improved. And we know our enemy; we know which behaviors spread the virus and which control it.
Above all, there is light at the end of the tunnel. True light. Several vaccines have had highly successful trials, with distribution to priority groups imminent, and wider distribution likely to accelerate by the spring of 2021. That’s when normal life can finally start to resume.
We have already lost too many neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, medical professionals, and First Responders. Let’s not compound the tragedy by losing even more loved ones just as the end of this emergency finally comes into sight. If you need help, here are resources. If you are in a position to provide help, here are options.
New Rochelle has been an inspiring model of strength and unity throughout this hardest of years. It’s our job together, as as community, to make it through this winter tunnel, bringing everyone safely to the other side. Let’s be #NewRoStrong just a little longer.