Well done, do better

We all must do better.

Life in the times of coronavirus can be strange and frightening. Ridgefield’s response has been impressive in many ways — the untiring work and dedication of people at the heart of getting information out, from the emergency operations center to first responders who are staying on the job, to the first selectman’s office. The response of so many regular Ridgefielders in staying at home, social distancing, while checking in with neighbors by phone also deserves recognition.

And heartfelt applause for the medical and care workers — some Ridgefielders, others from neighboring towns — who have bravely kept reporting to their now dangerous jobs at the assisted living complex and nursing home on Route 7 where half of the town’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been found. And, in truth, the folks who work in Stop & Shop, or the guys driving around making oil deliveries, and other “essential” workers who are sticking by their jobs. Likewise the intrepid Meals on Wheels volunteers, deserve gratitude and admiration — they’re at more risk than the rest of us hunkered down at home.

A more troubling response has come from some among the town’s young people. First Selectman Rudy Marconi has repeatedly warned young people not to do what he’s seen them doing — gathering, playing basketball, baseball and tennis.

Kids, this is just unsafe for you and the people you’re living with and others you know and come in contact with. Show some discipline. Stop.

Parents, the burden may be on you to communicate to kids that fun-as-usual is not acceptable in this crisis. If they’re feeling invincible, and are overconfident because the virus is most threatening to old people, play the guilt card. If they’re living in your house, and out and about unnecessarily, they’re endangering you.

In the broader world, as well, dueling impulses of empathy and selfishness are at a crossroads in 2020. There have been hopeful gestures during a health crisis unlike what the world has seen in more than a century. Neighbors bringing groceries to the elderly. Businesses stepping up and doing what’s asked by health officials and government.

In Connecticut, home of the widest wealth gap in the nation, nonprofits have banded together to create fund drives for residents thrust into a financial abyss.

Alas, there have also been problems.

The planned execution of testing for the virus is relatively simple. Perhaps not as simple as “drive-thru” might suggest, but users sign up online, confirm an appointment after a physician’s approval and are tested while remaining in their car. Results are processed within five days, sometimes within 48 hours.

What could go wrong?

Well, the evergreen Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) response showed up. A Greenwich location was shut down and Stamford and Stratford locations were changed.

People objected to testing in their neighborhoods. “They are afraid they’re going to get coronavirus,” a doctor in Stamford said.

Many people are, understandably, scared. While it might be unnerving to witness medical testing in an outdoor public setting, residents across the state need to recognize mobile stations as a major step toward identifying at-risk individuals and saving lives.

An at-home test is likely to become available, hopefully soon. In the meantime, these techniques allowed South Korea to effectively bend the curve. Our first confirmed case was identified on the same day as South Korea’s. Our case count continues to rise while South Korea appears to have arrested the spread of COVID-19.

People need reassurance they can’t catch coronavirus by looking out the window at phlebotomists in masks and gowns.

Coronavirus does not distinguish between the haves and the have-nots. No one wants it, but anyone can get it. Any roadblocks to helping someone get tested is potentially self-destructive.

Let’s do better.