Columns
Premium

COVID Spread in Western New York Raises Serious Questions About Masking and Social Distancing

Megan Fox wearing a mask. Photo credit Veronica Fox.

Governor Cuomo was recently on television excoriating Western New York and the Fingerlakes region for having an outbreak of COVID-19. We must be behaving badly, we aren’t “scared enough” according to him. Here he is screaming at us for having an outbreak of a virus that is highly contagious and was inevitable.

But it isn’t true at all that people in Western N.Y. are not scared enough. I live here and the extent to which the people around here are taking the pandemic precautions reaches an absurd level. Right now, I could go to one of the main beaches in the Fingerlakes and show you people walking their dogs, by themselves, wearing masks. I’m not kidding. 

In the interest of being accurate, I did jump in the car and went to take photos for you immediately after writing that sentence. It seemed only fair to back up my claim. This thread is full of photos of what I see here in Western N.Y. every day. I didn’t have to sit around and wait to find these people either. They’re everywhere. They’re the majority. There are very few people, if any at all, without masks on out in public.

I even took a video outside the Wegmans grocery store so you can see in real-time that I’m not exaggerating. I lost wifi about three minutes in but you get the picture. These people are totally compliant, 100%. I got cut off while I was saying that I know tons of people here canceling Thanksgiving, not traveling, not seeing their parents, not getting to have funerals, and not complaining about it. All school clubs are canceled, no one is having birthday parties, there are no get-togethers, or fundraisers.

I haven’t been to mass since March because I can’t take the masking mandate even though we are spaced six feet apart. People here are going beyond what is reasonable and it still didn’t make any difference. Our community even stopped providing community dinners for the poor and nixed the coat drive! Better luck next year, poor folk! They’ve canceled everything. There isn’t anything going on that would normally gather people together. And the governor trying to act like we are the ones breaking the rules when it’s the rules that just aren’t effective is rich.

Do you know what else is rich? Governor Cuomo was seen in Western N.Y. over the summer at the home of a local billionaire where it was rumored there was a big fundraiser thrown for him. He taxied to it by boat and locals reported that there was no social distancing at the event and neither were masks worn.

Unfortunately, no one got photos of Cuomo like they nailed Gavin Newsom. But keep in mind that this person screaming at you on the TV is no better than Newsom. He travels wherever he wants and does whatever he wants but expects you to give up your life. And we’ve all done that willingly. We are working from home, educating our kids mostly online, and ordering take-out to support local businesses. My neighbors and I have barely seen each other since March.

No one is acting stupidly. There were a few lockdown protests over the summer, but even those were relatively small and way smaller than the BLM riots that took over Rochester that no one cared to stop.

What does it mean, then, that Western N.Y. is suffering an outbreak of COVID-19? I can tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean the precautions everyone is taking actually work. I think we can reasonably make the assumption that the masking and standing on stickers six feet away from people aren’t actually stopping the virus. The virus is going to do what viruses do and make its way through the population until it burns out. And it’s flu season. There is no way this virus wasn’t going to spike during flu season.

New York City is calming down because the virus already rampaged through there. It took longer to get out here to Western New York. So instead of yelling at us and telling us how bad we are, why not admit that we did the best we could and now we have to walk through the fire as NYC did? We will get through this and instead of blaming the citizens of Western N.Y. for the spread of a highly contagious virus, maybe Cuomo could recognize the sacrifice so many New Yorkers are making every day of our lives as we navigate this pandemic.