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the editorial board

Selfishness threatens others, including health professionals

Government needs to strengthen its approach to people who refuse to heed the need for social distancing to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Here and around the country, people continue to gather in large crowds, splash gleefully on beaches and flout recommendations by government and health officials.

The guidelines are supported by disease experts, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and at the local level, Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. These are two examples. There are more.

To be sure, countless people are doing the right thing: staying inside, unless it is absolutely necessary to shop for groceries or pick up medicine and, when they do go outside, strictly adhering to the six-feet separation recommendation and never gather in groups of 10 or more.

But then there are those who want to do what they want, ignoring those they might infect – friends, relatives and, perhaps worse of all, health care professionals. That’s a calamity in waiting.

Medical professionals make up the front-line defenses against the new coronavirus or Covid-19. We must safeguard these professionals, as they take care of the growing number of cases – more than 20,000 in New York State.

Prominent among the dissenters have been spring breakers seen on video and social media frolicking on the beaches. Not all young people fall into the category of rebels, yet there are those images of spring breakers, who obviously believe that their youth makes them immune. It doesn’t, and it surely doesn’t immunize those they may infect and who those people may further infect.

Reports show that a number of young people have landed in the intensive care unit. The New York Times cited that nationally, 12% of the intensive care patients were between the ages of 20 and 44, adding that some experts attribute vaping to the vulnerability of young people. The University of Tampa recently announced that five of its students have tested positive for coronavirus after returning from their spring break vacations.

Even if someone who decided spring break was more important than his own health, what about the health of his parents and grandparents? Governors whose beaches seem irresistible (we’re looking at you, Florida) should shut it down.

It’s not just kids on spring break who pose a problem. Some churchgoers refuse to stay home. The recent News story about 25 congregants attending a Sunday service at an East Side Baptist church is one example.

With all due respect, using a hand sanitizer first is not enough. They, too, should follow the government recommendation, as members of other churches, temples and synagogues have done, and remain at home.

Another urgent message: civility in the face of crisis. The story about some shoppers ignoring special senior hours at Tops Markets is an example of selfishness, bordering on cruelty. One senior shopper noted that “an able-bodied young man bullied an old man who almost started to cry.” How’s that right?

America is a country built upon freedom but when that sense of freedom morphs into selfishness in the era of the new coronavirus, it is shameful. Let’s not be shameful.

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