Editorial: With COVID-19 numbers falling, it’s time to open up

On May 10, the COVID-19 positivity rate for Suffolk County was reported at 1.2%, averaged out over a week, the lowest it has been since early last fall. Just over half of the county’s 1.4 million residents have received one vaccination; 39.8% have received both doses.

And on that day, only 13 new hospitalizations for COVID-19 occurred across the county, according to data from the Suffolk County Department of Health.

These numbers show we have emerged from COVID darkness into the light of a hopeful upcoming summer season. As capacity rules are further relaxed, as restaurants and other hospitality industries put out “help wanted” signs, everything points to a broad opening up across our region.

The welcome mat is out. And that is great news. It is time.

A sure sign of a new normal is Southold’s decision to hold the iconic Memorial Day parade on May 31. This parade has traditionally been a wonderful way to honor servicemen and -women who sacrificed for our country in wars and conflicts.

Griswold-Terry-Glover American Legion Post 803 in Southold, of which Charles Sanders is commander, wants town residents to know the parade will begin at 11 a.m. at Boisseau Avenue and Route 25 and proceed west to the Civil War monument by the Legion Post. Boy Scout Troop 6 will be at the Post serving hot dogs and soda to the public. The Post urges those who attend to observe COVID-19 practices.

Popular events in Greenport Village may soon be back on the summer calendar. Villages officials are hopeful that the Dances in the Park concert series, which was canceled in 2020, will return. And, in a very good development, the Greenport Fire Department is planning to host its annual Fourth of July carnival.

The popular East End Maritime Festival, which has brought large crowds to the waterfront, is also slated to return and is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 18 and 19, according to the most recent village clerk’s report. East End Seaport Museum board member Linda Kessler said she’s feeling optimistic.

“Our permit application is in,” she said. “With the state loosening up, we’re hopeful that gatherings will be able to happen.”

Meanwhile, the seaport museum is gearing up to reopen for Memorial Day weekend with several new exhibits, including one on oysters and an exhibit on the historic schooner Regina Maris.

We are grateful that we have turned a corner on COVID-19. We hope vaccinations will continue and, as summer approaches, that summer 2021 will resemble the glorious North Fork summers of the pre-COVID past.

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