Guest Op-Ed: Patience is Our Safest Path

By Mayor Brian M. Arrigo

It’s only about 90 days ago.   In local news, the Revere High boys basketball team fell to Waltham in the opening round of the MIAA basketball tournament on February 25. A week later, Governor Charlie Baker read Dr. Seuss’s “Sneetches” to a throng of wide-eyed students at the Beachmont School as part of Read Across America Day.  On March 3, more than 8,000 Revere voters turned out for the Massachusetts Presidential Primary and Revere Democrats gave Bernie Sanders the nod over Joe Biden, 2,432 to 2,013. The start of Daylight Savings Time on March 8 signaled the end of a mild winter and the promise of a pleasant spring.

The local news was just so routine, except for one ominous article that referenced plans in Massachusetts to deal with something called the “coronavirus” that had taken a foothold in China and Italy, had reached the West Coast and now threatened to spread across the United States.  

And in a matter of just a couple of weeks afterward, the coronavirus, Covid-19 dominated the news and everything else in our lives.  Almost every routine came to an end as schools and businesses were ordered closed, residents retreated indoors, and any human interaction was   ruled by “social distance.”  Zoom became the common method of face-to-face communication.

As we step tentatively toward the month of June, having lost our spring and too many of our neighbors, we are hopeful that some sense of routine can return.  We long to return to our restaurants and our stores and gather with our friends and relatives.

To an extent, we can.  But we must be so very careful.  And patient.

At the end of March, as Covid-19 asserted its grip on our lives, I wrote on these pages:

… our level of shared anxiety is not unwarranted.  In one respect, that is a good thing.  Fear is a great protector:  it steers us away from foreseeable danger and draws us toward safer practices.  And so to the extent that we are afraid of Covid-19, it may activate our diligent compliance with the advice and direction of public health authorities.  Those outlets have been telling us for weeks how to protect ourselves, but, frankly, it wasn’t until the general public started to feel a little scared that they appreciated the necessity of social distancing, self-quarantine, and washing your hands.

What was true at the end of March is equally true at the beginning of June.  But now, knowledge can work to our advantage.  We have witnessed Covid-19’s capacity for human devastation, and we have witnessed how easily and secretly the disease can proliferate. We know now that the fear we experienced at the end of March was well-founded.

Now, armed with that knowledge, and still a dose of fear, we should more readily adapt to the measures that can protect us and everyone around us. 

Washing one’s hands is easy. Keeping social distance of six feet is easy, and when that’s not possible, a face-covering is a simple solution well worth the minor inconvenience.

Experts everywhere warn us of the danger of a “second wave” of Covid-19 infections.  But with common sense, and simple measures, we can ward off that dreaded second wave. 

While science seeks a cure, while the medical community takes a breather from Covid-19’s April rampage, we are asked simply to be careful, and patient.  Over the course of the past 90 days, we’ve slowed the disease enough so that some semblance of routine can return.  Let’s not let up during the next 90 days.

The summer of 2020 will be far different than what we are accustomed to, but we can enjoy a pleasurable summer in every respect.  We can be safe, if we are patient.  It’s our own call.

Brian Arrigo is Mayor of the City of Revere.

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