Last year at this time, Mardi Gras celebrations proceeded as planned in New Orleans, and within a few weeks, the city’s mayor came under fire for the decision after cases of coronavirus infection in the city skyrocketed.
It was early in the pandemic in America, and showed us all the correlation between large gatherings and transmission of the virus. It was, perhaps, our nation’s first super-spreader event.
A year later, we’re still grappling with the virus that has sickened almost 28 million Americans and killed 485,000 and counting. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations this year were off the table; city officials ordered bars to close last Friday and remain shuttered until after Fat Tuesday this week. There were no parades or balls.
Locally, we have experienced similar sad announcements. At Cooperstown, the National Baseball Hall of Fame canceled its outdoor ceremonies — an event that surely would have attracted thousands more visitors than the big crowd that usually attends. That’s because NY Yankee great Derek Jeter is to be welcomed among baseball’s icons, but at an indoors event that will be televised July 25.
Besides the thousands of fans who won’t get to see their diamond favorites in the flesh, local businesses such as restaurants, souvenir sellers and hotels also will be hurt.
For more than a year, Americans have watched the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe. Every American has been exposed to the information about transmission and prevention, and the best practices to avoid becoming ill with COVID-19 or transmitting the virus to others.
We now have two vaccines being deployed and several others awaiting approval, and more and more Americans are receiving vaccines every day. However, the greatest tool we possess in the struggle to overcome this pandemic is common sense.
Enjoy the comfort of your own home. Forego the gatherings. Wear a mask. Maintain social distance. Wash your hands. Isolate if you become ill or know you have been exposed.
Next Fat Tuesday and Cooperstown induction, you’ll be glad you did.