As the new year begins with another increase in COVID-19 cases, Long Island residents are getting more and more tired of the pandemic. Many have taken several precautions as the number of people testing positive for coronavirus has reached its highest level on Long Island since the spring of 2020, amid the spread of the delta variant and the even more contagious omicron variant.
Long Islanders are looking at the numbers carefully as they weigh whether to cancel trips or big parties in the coming months. But some are resigned to COVID-19 becoming a permanent part of life, and they look forward to a return to pre-pandemic life that is still elusive.
Here are some of their stories.
What to know
With Long Island coronavirus positivity rate at its highest level since the spring of 2020, many Long Islanders are taking several precautions.
The increase in cases causes some to rethink travel or party plans for 2022 and closely monitor case numbers.
Some say they are already trying to live their lives as “normally” as possible or prepare for a return to relative normality by 2022.
Eric Ferraioli, Sayville
Ferraioli, 41, has been very cautious throughout the pandemic, in part to help protect his parents, who are in their 70s.
But in mid-November, before the COVID-19 case numbers rose, Ferraioli and his girlfriend traveled to Manhattan to celebrate their first anniversary together, ate at an indoor restaurant for the first and only time, and visited a museum.
“It felt like the most wonderful dinner I’ve ever been to,” he said. “It felt like we were doing something together that felt normal again, just for an hour. I would do anything to get that feeling back.”
With the rise in cases, Ferraioli is back to “being a locked in.”
But he knows it can not last forever. He has heard experts say that although omicron is highly contagious, it also tends to lead to milder cases on average – although it can still cause serious illness in some. Maybe, he thinks, it will infect so many people that “it’s going to burn through”, and afterwards, combined with the protective effect of the increasing number of people with booster shots, rates will drop markedly again.
“You hate to say it because you want to do your part and you want to do the right thing, but you have to get to some kind of normality again,” he said. “We have to feel like we’re OK when we sit with four friends and have a glass of wine.”
Consistent with what some scientists have said, Ferraioli believes that COVID-19 could one day become roughly similar to the seasonal flu and kill some, especially the unvaccinated, but not in the massive number of the past two years. And just like with the flu every year, society will continue, he said.
“They’re never going to tell us it’s over,” he said. “So I think you’ll eventually have to say, ‘This is the risk. This is the reward.’ I mean, I’m not going to go to the Garden for a concert. But I think I have to get back to the point where I feel like I’m living a normal life again. “
Lisa Edwards, Port Jefferson
Edwards planned a big family reunion in her Port Jefferson backyard to celebrate her sister’s birthday on July 4th. It’s six months away, but today’s high COVID-19 numbers are already making her wonder if that will happen.
“I have to see where things are and then go from there,” she said. “If the rates are low, I want it. But I want to make sure people get vaccinated and that sort of thing.”
The current increase caused her to scale down her Christmas dinner from 20 people to six and ask everyone to take a COVID-19 test. They had all been given a booster shot.
“I have a mom who’s in her 80s and keeping her well protected is what I’m most worried and careful about,” said Edwards, who recently stopped going to the gym.
Her mother has a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which puts her at higher risk for severe COVID-19.
Edwards said she had begun to loosen up as prices were lower, including going on vacation in Puerto Rico in August. But in the foreseeable future, it remains to be extremely careful.
“Until it goes the other way, I will keep my precautions up and keep my family safe,” she said.
Deborah Redmond, Baldwin
Redmond, 58, was looking forward to escaping the New York winter and enjoying time with the extended family while attending her niece’s wedding in suburban Los Angeles in February. Now she’s not so sure.
“I’m going back and forth,” she said of the wedding, which is still going on so far. “I really want to go. I want some warmth. But if [the COVID-19 rate] continues to rise as it is, it must be removed. “
Redmond said the pandemic is becoming “very tiring.” She is tired of wearing a mask in public places because “it is very suffocating.” But she does, and it makes her nervous to see others in the supermarket not doing so.
She can not see herself giving up masks “when soon. There are still people who do not comply with the guidelines and they still think this is a gimmick and no one wants to wear a mask, so you have to protect yourself . “
Before the latest wave, Redmond became a little more relaxed. She stopped wearing a mask in church, but recently started doing it again, and she noticed that a lot of other congregations again put on their masks as well.
Redmond attended a wedding in the Bronx a few weeks ago, and she felt more secure because the rules in New York City required attendees to show proof of vaccination, and everyone wore a mask.
But she and her family agreed to cancel a planned Christmas dinner in the Bronx that would have included at least 20 people. It was just her and her boyfriend at Christmas.
“We just felt it was safer,” she said.
John Locascio, Long Beach
Locascio never considered canceling a trip to Mexico, where he will be traveling in a few days due to the increase in COVID-19 numbers.
“I got all my vaccines. I’m 70 years old,” he said. “How much longer do I have to live?”
Locascio said he wants to enjoy life while he can – take precautions like wearing a mask and getting a booster shot, but not isolating himself.
“I do not think I’m going to get it,” he said of the coronavirus. “I do not want to put myself in a position to get it. But I want to do the best I can. I still want to enjoy the remaining life I have.”
Locascio said he and his girlfriend are likely to eat indoors at some point while in Mexico, something he has done on a regular basis in Long Beach at a dining room that has tables at a good distance.
“I just want to do what I would normally do, within reason,” he said.
Katherine Brito, Holtsville
Brito, 29, makeup consultant in a store, preferably will not work. “I have a 3-month-old at home, so I’m scared,” she said.
But, Brito said, she and her husband, a barber, must continue to work no matter how high the COVID-19 numbers are because they have to support their son.
In the shop where Brito works, some customers refuse to wear masks.
“If we tell them, they get angry,” she said. “They say they’ve been vaccinated.”
If a customer does not have a mask on, “I help them from a 6-foot distance,” she said.
Brito spoke outside a CityMD in Farmingville, where she had waited in a long queue to be tested for coronavirus after she began to experience low back pain, chills, sweating and fatigue after a Christmas Eve gathering in Ronkonkoma, after which three family members tested positive . She also ended up testing positive.
Her family kept the gathering smaller than planned – 10 people – but that kept her alert for future gatherings. A small family reunion for New Year’s Eve was canceled, and “if we plan to meet [later in the year], we must have a test “in advance.
Lisa Caravella, Medford
Caravella, 46, and her family are cautious in the midst of the COVID-19 wave, avoiding major events and crowded restaurants. But her biggest fear is not that she or her teens will get the virus. It is that the coronavirus increase will return their classes to online only.
Daughter Abby, 14, is in high school, and son Jack, 18, is in college.
During the months of distance learning, “their emotional well-being at home was not optimal,” Caravella said.
And, she added, “They certainly did not learn that much. It almost seemed like everyone had given up and it was just busy work.”
Caravella believes the mask rules at her children’s institutions help keep them safe.
Still, she is willing to get them to take the small risk of exposure in class to avoid what she fears would be the emotional damage of returning to distance learning.
“I think they would survive COVID,” she said. “But I do not think they would survive another lockdown.”
Robert Vazquez Jr., Bellport
For Vazquez and his wife, who is immunocompromised, 2022 will be about seeing the COVID-19 numbers and deciding when it’s safe to venture out.
“It’s entirely up to my wife,” said Vazquez, 48. “She’s the one who would get really sick. Me, I would get sick, and no matter what, I would be okay. She has the low immunity. It could kill “If the numbers are down and she’s comfortable,” they would be more relaxed.
The couple started eating out again indoors at restaurants in late summer, but “as soon as we started hearing about the delta, I thought, ‘Oh my God, we’re up and running again’.”
Vazquez is frustrated when he sees people in the store and other public places without masks.
“No one wants to put on a mask,” he said. “But it’s not about you. It’s about taking care of everyone else. … When we go out and people walk around without a mask, I’ll say to her, ‘Let’s just go.’ for her to be sick. “
In December 2020, she contracted the virus and “felt really bad” with difficulty breathing and a loss of taste and smell that lasted two to three months, he said.
And “we’ve had a lot of people die from it,” including a 21-year-old family friend who had asthma.
The couple are not vaccinated because of concerns that the vaccine could harm them and because they have heard that people who have been vaccinated are still getting sick and dying of COVID-19, Vazquez said.
However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, serious adverse effects from the vaccine are very rare and the hospitalization rate for COVID-19 is eight times higher for unvaccinated versus vaccinated adults. Death rates are 14 times higher for unvaccinated people compared to those considered “fully vaccinated,” and 20 times higher for people who have received a booster shot, the CDC says.
Vazquez said that as long as COVID-19 numbers remain high, they will stick to watching Netflix at home instead of going out.
“You’re scared to go anywhere,” he said.