Throughout these past three months, we have been subjected to staying in our homes, ripped from our everyday routines and not allowed to access the outside world except for a limited number of activities due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. However, with infection rates and hospitalizations dropping considerably in the past month, many states have begun to reopen, with people arguing whether or not some states ordered too soon. Yet two states have been reluctant to reopen as quickly--New York and New Jersey--until now. Both states have finally begun their reopening process, returning to a New Normal.
New York and New Jersey have been hit the hardest from the Coronavirus Pandemic, with New York alone accounting for a quarter of the national death toll, specifically pertaining to New York City. New Jersey’s proximity to the city does not help the rising infection rates either.
But what does this new normal mean?
For some, their new normal seems to have already started, putting in an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. I have seen people around my small town throwing parties, refusing to social distance, and honestly not caring about the situation at hand. Even driving by the beach, I noticed that people were packed on, enjoying the beginning of what seems like a new-found freedom. Yes, most were keeping their social distance, yet many, even the law enforcement, were refusing to wear masks. But that can only go so far.
Phase Two of New Jersey’s multifaceted reopening plan began on June 15th. This means that outdoor dining became an option for restaurants and bars, which were forced to serve only if they had the means for pickup and/or delivery. Nonessential retail stores also were allowed to reopen with a shopping capacity of 50%. Hair salons, barber shops, massage parlors, and other services return to the state on June 22nd. Things are beginning to open up slowly but surely in the state, highlighting the key improvements the state has made over the past few months.
Even within the past few days, I’ve seen a huge difference in the environment around me. In my small town, many of the restaurants added sitting areas so that they can welcome back customers with open arms. I’ve seen so many flock to these establishments and enjoy every moment of it. People are adjusting with what they have at hand.
According to COVID Act Now, New Jersey is showing the most positive trend in a coronavirus analysis, showing the most signs of hope. The cases in the state are not only decreasing, but also the state’s COVID preparedness “meets or exceeds international standards.” The infection rate of the state also remains low at 0.82, which means for every positive COVID patient, they are likely to infect 0.82 other people. The state also has a positive test rate of 1.8%, meaning that there might be enough testing to identify and isolate people who may or may not be infected.
New York, on the other hand, has been reopening by region, requiring each region to meet criteria before moving forward. New York City will enter Stage Two on June 22nd, being the last region in the state to do so. This includes outdoor dining, hair salons and barber shops, in-person retail, etc. Seven out of the 10 regions have been cleared for Stage Three, yet no one so far has entered Stage Four. This final stage allows for event venues, gyms and fitness centers, movie theaters, etc. In addition, hospitals and group homes can accept visitors at their discretion with proper measures in place, and outdoor graduations of up to 150 people are allowed as well as of June 26th.
But even with states reopening, it is important to remember that the virus has not vanished. Precautions must be made, adjustments must be sought out. Yes, we can go to the mall, but you should wear a mask, even if not for yourself, but for others around you. Our new normal might not involve being able to embrace our friends and family, but it does mean making do with the situation at hand. We cannot assume that the virus is gone, but what we can do is adjust as best as possible.