Reading a recent article in The New York Times, I see that Congressman Lee Zeldin was interviewed about the omicron variant of COVID-19. The Times reports:
“Speaking just outside the chamber with his mask off, Representative Lee Zeldin, Republican of New York, was nonchalant. Omicron is mild, he said, and the steep rise in cases, in his home county on Long Island and across the country, will be followed, he hoped, by an equally steep decline.
“‘Those who are testing positive include the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, but for those I speak to — and there are many who have tested positive in recent weeks — fortunately for them, every single person I’ve spoken to has had a much milder experience than what was experienced in past variants,’ said Mr. Zeldin.”
I agree with the Times: Zeldin is nonchalant about COVID.
I would expect more from our congressman. Rather than sharing anecdotal evidence with the Times, he might have checked in with some of the local hospitals treating his constituents for COVID; available data indicates the COVID census for five of those hospitals: Peconic Bay, 52; Long Island Community Hospital, 74 (no ICU beds available); St. Charles, 41; St. Catherine, 67 (data from New York Times Covid Tracker, 1/13/22).
COVID — apparently not mild enough that it can’t result in some hospitalizations.
Local schools, too, are on the front line of this public health emergency and are not out of the woods. As of January 12, in my neighborhood school system, in the elementary, middle and high schools educating our children, 147 positive cases were reported (data from Suffolk County, 1/12/22).
Wouldn’t it be more reassuring if Congressman Zeldin addressed the country’s ongoing public health crisis this way: However milder than the delta variant, omicron threatens our health and well-being. The challenge to our hospitals and school systems is daunting, so it’s imperative that my constituents remain vigilant by wearing good-fitting masks (preferably the N-95) and getting vaccinated.
Those are the best actions we can take to alleviate the strain on our hospitals and to return schools to educating our youth uninterrupted by this highly contagious variant.
Mr. Anthony is a former Southampton Town Democratic Party chair — Ed.
One fine body…