Editorial: Fighting COVID fatigue
There have been three new cases of COVID-19 in Wilton since Aug. 27, according to a message to the community by First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice on the town website.
The people who contracted this illness could have gotten it anywhere. It’s clear from recent events that people are struggling with the isolation and the mask-wearing needed to keep the coronavirus at bay. It’s evident in many places. A walk through town on a sunny Sunday found people without masks clustered together dining outside, walking on the sidewalk, walking through parks. Masks are either not worn or not put on when approaching another person.
The recent spike in coronavirus cases in Danbury is a warning to be heeded by all of us. It was on the minds of the Board of Education members last week when they agreed with Superintendent of Schools Kevin Smith’s recommendation to hold off on a hybrid opening for school in favor of an all-remote opening the first week. And as much as several board members said they were voting for the remote opening to help teachers catch up with technology, it’s questionable whether the special Tuesday meeting would have been called at all — given there was another meeting two days later — if those gatherings that burned up social media last week had not taken place.
But you can’t change the past and now we must move forward, using those events and what is going on in Danbury as motivation to stay the course of wearing a mask, keeping our distance, and being circumspect about what gatherings — large or small — we attend.
On a recent Friday — Aug. 21 — Danbury had 44 new positive coronavirus cases — in one day more than the total for two weeks at the end of July. From Aug. 2 to 20, the city recorded at least 178 new cases, which the state Department of Health called a “sharp increase” and issued a COVID-19 alert.
With Connecticut’s positivity rate below 1 percent, Danbury’s suddenly jumped to 7 percent.
What caused the spike? With contract tracing some patterns emerged: People sitting too close to each other, without masks, at youth sporting events; international travelers who might not have self-quarantined for 14 days; boaters who party on Candlewood Lake in clusters; and even the power outage of up to seven days after Tropical Storm Isaias on Aug. 4 which can be pinpointed to downtown neighborhoods.
But perhaps the single overriding culprit is this: COVID fatigue.
After more than five months of lockdown, with hospitalizations and deaths relatively low and wanting to enjoy the last free days of warm summer weather, people are letting down their guard against a virus they cannot see.
The result was putting youth sports on hold, remote learning in school until at least Oct. 1, a request by the mayor to scale back church services, the closure of state boat ramps at Candlewood Lake, and increased testing.
Danbury is Connecticut’s seventh-largest city. It is much bigger than Wilton so the numbers will be much bigger. But this is the danger — the virus remains highly contagious. Proportionally, what happened there, can happen here.
We all want this to be over, but it is clear we still have a way to go. It will take continued effort by all of us — young and not so young — to make some sacrifices for ourselves, those we love, and our community. Some of those sacrifices in hindsight will seem trivial. Some will have a positive outcome. Take a lesson from the seniors who graduated from Wilton High School in June. They lost their traditional graduation but they replaced it with something wonderful. Something no other class has had and something they will be able to talk about that was far different than a two-hour ceremony with lots of speeches.
We can do this. Stay positive.
Don’t wring your hands. Wash them.