On Monday, New York entered Phase 1b of the state’s Covid-19 vaccination program, meaning that first responders, public safety and transit workers and anyone 65 or older can now get the vaccine. Phase 1a started in mid-December, with vaccinations first offered to health care workers and long-term care facility residents.
By all measures, the vaccines are safe and effective. If you can sign up, you should seriously consider doing so. Getting the vaccine is a personal decision. No one can be forced to receive it. If we want to beat this virus, however, the vaccine is the way to do it.
In Nassau County, we clearly need more vaccination sites, working around the clock, to get this job done.
Social distancing and mask wearing are critical, but these measures were never intended to defeat the virus, only to slow its progression until a vaccine could be developed and administered.
Even after we have reached “herd immunity,” when 60 to 70 percent of the population has been vaccinated, we will likely have to continue preventive measures for some time to ensure that we are doing all we can to eradicate this viral invader.
Last week, Nassau’s Covid-19 test positivity rate hovered around 5 percent — among the lowest in the country. Only three states — Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont — and the District of Columbia reported positivity rates below that. We must continue working to drive the rate down, remembering that it was less than 1 percent just over three months ago.
New York state’s positivity rate last week was 7.9 percent, which was good compared with many other states — only 12 had lower rates. Still, it wasn’t good to see New York’s rate rising. Only a month ago, the state had the fourth-lowest positivity rate in the country.
In New York, and particularly downstate, we have suffered more than many other parts of the country, in large part because of our population density — the coronavirus breeds among people who are in close proximity to one another.
When you’re wearing a mask in public, don’t let it drop down below your nose. The mask does little to no good if your nose is exposed. When you’re in line anywhere, respect social-distancing protocols. Stand six feet apart.
We know, people are tired of hearing this again and again. It’s been 10 months since the coronavirus broke out in New York. We have to say it, though. If we can’t keep the positivity rate down, then the alternative is another shutdown, which no one wants.