A Halloween party at the home of a Pine Bush School Board member, attended by an estimated 40 students, is being blamed for the latest upswing of COVID-19 cases in that school district. The district reported 23 new cases involving students during the 14 day period that ended Nov. 15.
Pine Bush is not alone, but that number is high. Over that same two-week period, Wallkill had five cases. Marlboro and Highland each had none.
Cases are on the rise as New York State enters its second, or perhaps third wave of the deadly virus. As of Monday night, Orange County was reporting 93 new cases, with a total of 15,197 cases and 425 deaths. Ulster County was reporting 402 actives cases, 2,798 total cases and 98 fatalities.
The resurgence has led to renewed concerns. In Newburgh, the superintendent of schools is warning that a continued rise in positive cases will lead to a pause in the district’s re-opening plan and a return to 100-percent remote learning. Other districts are likely considering the same actions.
The coming of colder weather is moving people inside, and indoor gatherings prompt new fears. Governor Andrew Cuomo, last week, mandated that bars, restaurants and gyms must close their indoor services at 10 p.m. daily. Indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences will be limited to no more than 10 people.
It’s doubtful that police (or Governor Cuomo!) will be peeking in your windows on Thanksgiving to ensure that your family gathering numbers fewer than 10, though nothing stops your neighbors from complaining. Compliance, and common sense, is voluntary.
But clearly we are not doing friends or family a favor this holiday season if we expose them to unnecessary risk. The cruel irony is that our elderly relatives, who might most appreciate a visit with family during the holiday season, are most vulnerable.
Our vigilance has brought us too far in this battle to ease up now. With news of progress in the development of a vaccine giving us cause for hope, we must continue to be vigilant. Wear a mask, wash your hands, avoid crowds and maintain a safe distance when conducting your business.