The relief experienced as COVID-19 winds down in Greene and Columbia counties is still tempered by troubling reminders that the pandemic is down but not out. Columbia County health officials reported five new positive COVID-19 cases Tuesday afternoon, the majority of which were young people.
Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb said this week one of the five is 28 years old and another is a man in his 40s who had declined to be vaccinated and had to be hospitalized for respiratory issues Tuesday. The third is a person in his 20s who arrived from another country to work at a summer camp in the south of the county. The fourth is 18 and the fifth, the youngest positive, is 5 years old.
The situation should send up a red flag that people who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks in stores, restaurants and other places where they are required, according to the CDC and New York state. This includes most children under 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
As Mabb put it, the situation is like standing on a beach holding out your hand to stop a tidal wave. It is difficult if not impossible to stop young people from going without their masks because they will not be truthful if they are confronted with questions about getting vaccinated, as some health officials have feared.
Concerns linger about people who are not vaccinated going without masks, and people who are not vaccinated and going about their business as if they are. The worst possible scenario is another major outbreak. For example, suppose a COVID variant comes along that is resistant to the vaccine.
Fireworks shows across New York state in June did not herald the end of COVID-19. It was a flashy, rather cheap celebration of reaching a 70% vaccination rate. It didn’t mark the end of a war, just the end of a battle to achieve a threshold. In fact, the war is not over quite yet.