Editorial: A little common sense can prevent another surge of COVID-19

Across Long Island this past Fourth of July weekend, the beaches were packed. Saturday was hot and sunny and the beaches were a powerful attraction for people who have been cooped up for months because of COVID-19.

Nationally, the pandemic picture is anything but rosy. As of Tuesday there were 3 million cases in the U.S., with an average of 50,000 new cases being reported every day. Florida reported that it’s nearly out of ICU beds. The COVID-19 count is up in 37 out of 50 states, with five states reporting single-day records for new cases and three reporting their highest daily death counts.

A number of states have shuttered bars and stopped any indoor dining and made wearing a mask mandatory — something that should have been enforced all along.

On the North Fork, residents reported that beaches near their homes were crowded and that few people appeared to be practicing social distancing or wearing protective masks. One frightened Cut-ch-ogue homeowner wrote an email to an editor that said, in part: 

“It is 12:15 on July 4th and I am observing with horror the dozens of people who are gathering together without masks on the beach that is part of our property and on the adjoining beach … Boats in the harbor right offshore are also gathering, loaded with people clustered together, presumably without masks. When the number of COVID-19 cases multiplies in this area, it may be attributed in part to these gatherings where, to our dismay, nothing can be done to stop the ever-increasing numbers of people coming here.

“At the moment, my husband and I, both in our eighties, are feeling overwhelmed and horrified by the arrogance of people flouting the COVID-19 guidelines. That this is happening right at our doorstep, when we seem to have nowhere to turn for help to squelch this onslaught, is particularly frustrating.”

We should feel saddened by what this couple experienced over the weekend. What they saw was no doubt repeated across Riverhead and Southold. Being frightened in your own home, worried the virus will come roaring back here, is a horrible way to live.

But take a look at a few items on this week’s Southold Town police blotter to see how police officers spent part of their weekend.

• Police responded to the IGA supermarket in Southold Saturday after a 48-year-old Southold man became aggravated and caused a scene when asked to put on a face mask. The incident was reported around 7:30 p.m. and the man was gone before police arrived.

• Officials received a similar mask complaint at PORT Bar & Grill in Greenport Saturday after a 46-year-old Sound Beach man became irate when he refused to put a mask on and began to yell vaguely threatening statements at other patrons. An officer told the man he was no longer welcome at the restaurant and would be subject to arrest if he returned.

• Police were called to Greenport Laundry Friday after an unknown woman refused to wear a mask inside the location. The woman fled before police arrived, but an employee was advised that they may ask people to leave the store or contact police again if they don’t comply with the rules.

 This is a small snapshot of a hot, busy holiday weekend as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage America. Hundreds of local businesses were shuttered during the closures, just reopening — partially — in recent weeks and hoping for the best. Another COVID-19 wave, even a small one, could further endanger those businesses now struggling to regain ground they lost.

People need to respect the guidelines if we are ever going to get out of this.