On May 30, a Herald editor conducted an informal, small-scale survey, counting the number of people with masks whom he passed while walking at the Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve in Merrick.
The count wasn’t even close. Eighty-four people were wearing masks, while 42 weren’t. That is, two-thirds wore masks.
The same editor conducted the same survey just over two weeks later, on June 14. This time, the results were very different. Seventy-eight people weren’t wearing masks, while 20 were. That is, 79 percent of people had no face covering, while 21 percent did.
What does this tell us? Perhaps nothing — after all, this was a small survey, conducted at one location on only two days. On the other hand, it could indicate an attitudinal shift — perhaps people believe the worst of the coronavirus crisis is behind us, so they no longer have to wear masks.
There was seemingly no reason not to wear a mask last Sunday. The temperature was in the low 70s, with virtually no humidity and a slight breeze, so you didn’t feel stifled by the weather while wearing one.
Have people become apathetic? We hope not. The virus still lurks among us. It’s out there, waiting to strike. If we don’t take the most basic precautions, like wearing masks and staying six feet apart from people other than our immediate family members, then we could very well be in for a second wave of infection.
We’re already seeing second waves in other parts of the country. A number of states reopened too fast, without coherent plans. Now they are suffering with rapidly rising hospitalization rates.
Thanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership, New York has taken a careful, calculated approach to reopening its economy. The state has done all it can to ensure that the infection rate remains low. Now individual actions will determine whether we remain on course to recovery — both the health of our citizens and our economy.