To the Editor:
On June 1, a protest of historic proportions occurred at Five Corners. About 400 people showed up to take a knee against police violence.
There were some on the online forum of The MV Times that decried such a gathering during a pandemic, and questioned the wisdom of it.
They, of course, were responding to criticism of protest both here and around the country demanding that the governors and local officials have less restrictive regulations and allow the economy to reopen. Why should businesses suffer, when such irresponsible people were protesting en masse, they argued? I understand the question — it is valid.
But when you really dig into it, and look at the photos and videos of these events, you will see two key points. The great majority of people protesting at Five Corners that day were wearing masks, and they were socially distancing as much as possible.
So now, four weeks after that event, we have seen one new case of coronavirus on the Vineyard. A clear indicator that masks and social distancing work.
Let’s compare that with what is currently happening in many states that have opened their economies, and have not required the wearing of masks, even while indoors in public buildings. Bars are open, social distancing is null, and life is back to normal. Except that in those states that are not requiring masks, the infection rates are soaring. Record numbers of new cases have occurred in these states every day for the past week. The situation has become so dire that the state of Florida stopped issuing information on the number of new hospitalizations (fact), in order to prevent panic (my opinion).
Arizona has stopped revealing the dwindling number of available ventilators and ICU beds, as some of their hospitals approach maximum capacity.
We may very well see images of American citizens dying in the hallways of state-of-the-art hospitals in American cities. I am not saying that will happen for certain, but some are getting close to that point now.
Now, of course, there are a number of factors here, and comparing this Island to large cities in Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida is truly comparing apples to oranges. But our local officials require us to wear masks when in public.
Theirs do not.
Our local officials do not allow large groups of people to interact closely with one another.
Our local officials are taking this seriously, and are doing everything they can to protect the health and the lives of our citizens and visitors.
Theirs are more concerned with the economy.
My point here, to both residents and visitors, is that while masks may be a bit uncomfortable, and you may think you look silly or your glasses fog up, it’s one hell of a lot better than getting this disease and unknowingly passing it on to a vulnerable loved one.
To our visitors, I ask that you respect our Island community — we were tightly locked down, as was much of the country, last spring, so you could come here and feel safe. The great majority of us are wearing masks for your protection, as well as ours. We welcome you, we respect you; please respect us, and wear a mask when in public or close proximity to anyone, and keep your freaking distance from everyone.
To our residents, please respect our visitors as they would respect you.
We will have plenty of opportunities to hug next year.