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David Marcus put it well in these pages Thursday: “The Big Apple is dying. Its streets are empty. . . . The sweat equity of countless small-business owners is evaporating. It needs to end. Now.”
The universally stated purpose of the lockdowns was to “flatten the curve” so hospitals didn’t get overwhelmed. Well: Hospitalizations are now a third of the peak level; daily deaths are down 500 percent.
A debate can — must — be had about what to reopen when and how. Yet too many politicos and pundits still insist any hint of ending the 10-week lockdown amounts to a death wish. “People will die because you want a haircut” goes this line. It’s as extreme, and absurd, as the idea that wearing a mask is submission to tyranny.
It ignores the more measured arguments of those of us who want to get New Yorkers back to work and back to life safely. A fifth of the state’s workers have lost their jobs.
The lockdown has clearly grown untenable: Gothamites are crowding parks and loitering outside bars and restaurants, to-go cocktails in hand. And why not, if they can do it safely? New Yorkers mastered social distancing, with creative face masks replacing designer handbags as the accessory. Businesses routinely require masks for entry, protecting employees and customers.
So why can’t more of them reopen? Why can you buy swimsuits and other “nonessential” goods at Walmart or Target but not at a local shop? Because the people elected to serve us just don’t trust us.
“If I won’t send my children to day camp, I wouldn’t ask anyone else to send their children to day camp,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo says. No one’s asking you to tell them what to do, sir. They want to make some choices for themselves.
Some precautions must stay in place. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths are among those over 65 years, and the vast majority of fatalities at all ages had at least one underlying condition. Protect the vulnerable, by all means. Staggered commutes, with many office workers still telecommuting on any given day, are no-brainers. Mask-wearing is a must for a while yet.
Gothamites are sick of the isolation from friends and family, of watching neighbors lose jobs and businesses go bust while the COVID-19 numbers move steadily downward.
Get us out of this box.