Editorial: A little perspective on pandemic’s anniversary

It’s almost hard to believe it’s been just one year since COVID-19 arrived on the North Fork. When you think back to those early days, when there were only a few dozen confirmed local cases and the world around us began to shut down, it feels like a lifetime ago.

The reality is that as of the printing of this newspaper on Thursday, March 11, 2021, it’s been just 368 days since the first confirmed coronavirus case was announced via a statement from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

“This morning we received confirmation that a patient has tested positive for COVID-19 in Suffolk County,” the press release began.

To underscore how far we’ve come since then, you might recall that a maskless Mr. Bellone and Suffolk County’s top health and public safety officials packed into a meeting room with media representatives the next two days to share details on the spread of the virus.

“While we continue to do all that we can to avoid a widespread outbreak, we are asking the public to do the same,” Mr. Bellone said.

We would later learn the virus was already here at levels previously unknown. There was no stopping the spread.

Within three days, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a global pandemic and there have since been more than 165,000 cases of it in Suffolk County alone. The number of fatalities here is now above 3,100.

What will follow over the next several weeks and months is a series of even more one-year anniversaries. Many will mark loss — both personal and economic.

We wanted to use this space instead to note a few of the more positive anniversaries coming up this month. So we looked through our archives to re-read some of the stories we did on people doing good in the early days of the pandemic. Let’s be sure to thank these people for doing their part at a time of such uncertainty.

March 16, 2020 — Community Action Southold Town announces it will launch an Emergency Feed-A-Kid-Program, ensuring students home from school will still be fed each day. Within two days, Riverhead, Greenport and Southold schools were providing meals for students to pick up, and other districts followed suit. 

March 20, 2020 — Cedars Golf Club in Cutchogue announced it was opening its course free of charge. Instead of capitalizing on golf being one of the limited activities available, they made it even easier for people to enjoy the sport.

March 21, 2020 — Amid a shortage of hand sanitizer, Twin Stills Moonshine in Riverhead distilled bottles of it and handed it out for free to customers. We highlighted this contribution in an article also mentioning businesses like The Cooperage Inn in Baiting Hollow and Wendy’s Deli and C.J.’s American Grill in Mattituck that were all donating free meals to health care workers and people in need.

March 25, 2020 — Riverhead SAFE — a free meals delivery service for seniors — was launched by the town.

March 26, 2020 — Forced to stay home from school, Mattituck High School students arrived at Breakwater Beach to earn community service credits by doing a beach cleanup. In a spring that saw more beach activity than usual, students helped improve the experience. 

March 31, 2020 — Eastern Long Island Kampground in Greenport announced it would open its sites free of charge to health care workers in an effort to offer support amid the outbreak of COVID-19. The sites came with water, electric and sewer hookups.