The year 2020 has been filled with hard decisions we’ve all heard a lot about.
Much has been reported about the tough choices businesses had to make in closing or furloughing employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. And we all know government officials had to shut down many of those industries, close schools and make countless other decisions that have not made life easy for any of us.
What’s perhaps less often discussed or written about are the equally challenging individual decisions we each have to make about our return to “normal” life.
Our comfort levels with a new approach to distancing vary greatly. For some, it’s no big deal. They’re healthy, the infection rate is low and there are reasons to dive back into life head-on.
For many others, it’s not so simple. Should they send their kids back to school? Will that mean they have to distance from grandparents and other vulnerable relatives for countless more months?
These are life choices we make as individuals that could have consequences. In many instances there is no right or wrong, but we must make these decisions knowing there could be outcomes we did not foresee.
Online this week we published two stories that serve as a reminder of the reverberations that can emanate from actions we take in these uncertain times of COVID-19.
Our story of Bill Eagle, a Southold man who died while hospitalized with the coronavirus, is important — and we’re grateful his family was willing to share it. By their account, they took all the same precautions so many of us have. But in seeking some return to normalcy, they suffered a tragedy few of us can truly relate to. They did no wrong. They paid the price anyway.
At the Miller Place Inn, Suffolk’s first business to be fined by the Department of Health for violating an order restricting catering hall occupancy to just 50 people, a choice seemingly made out of financial desperation caused several dozen attendees of a Sweet 16 party to test positive for the same illness. It doesn’t appear that any of the families involved will suffer the same tragic fate as the Eagles — and thank goodness for that — but the catering hall’s decision had logical consequences.
In a third story reported this week, Dr. Deborah Birx, a physician and diplomat who has served as response coordinator on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said we must remain vigilant in our fight against this virus.
The stories of Bill Eagle and the Miller Place Inn should reinforce that conviction in all of us.
“We all want to believe that our family and neighbors and people that we see on a regular basis couldn’t have COVID and we know that people can have COVID and be asymptomatic,” Dr. Birx said, acknowledging that while wearing masks and maintaining distance at family gatherings is difficult, it’s the safest way forward.
“It’s our job to protect one another,” she said. “You can be out and about, but it takes constant attention to these safety measures.”
As we continue to make tough choices, we must strive to remain mindful that the battle with COVID-19 is not over. Let’s practice safety in the best interests of ourselves, those we love and many others we’ve never met.