Editorials

The Rocky Point Drive-In sign in 1988, the year it closed. Photo courtesy of Cinema Treasures

There were once things called cassettes. Those were discarded in favor of CDs, but now there’s nothing of music but bits of stored data on a computer. Actually, maybe not. Maybe your music is stored in a cloud, a server bank thousands of miles away from where you even live.

But still, people are buying vinyl records again. There’s a certain quality to them you won’t get with digitized music, people say. Not only that, it simply feels different, like one is feeling the rough memories of the music artist. 

It goes to say that there is a certain quality to things gone past that goes beyond nostalgia. In today’s crisis, it may be best to look for the things we once thought defunct to perhaps help us and our local businesses combat the economic impacts of COVID-19 in unique ways. While Suffolk County begins the reopening process this week, businesses must think about the greater good, and look for unique ways to service customers without potentially causing an uptick in cases.

We’re not the only folks to recognize the possibilities presented by drive-in movies. We have heard leaders in multiple North Shore communities mention the possibility of setting up some kind of in-car theater experience. What it takes is space, and that’s the main issue. Places like Stony Brook University may be tricky because of all the coronavirus-related activity going on there. Landlords with strip malls or other large parking lots should start considering the possibility to help out their tenants. Imagine people being able to order food that then gets delivered to cars while they’re watching a movie right there in the parking lot.

Above, an ad placed in the Port Jefferson Record in 1961 announcing the drive-in’s grand opening

There’s one noticeable location right on the North Shore that is almost too perfect a spot. The former Rocky Point Drive-In on Route 25A may be too apt a name for what’s now an overgrown property. It’s owned by Heidenberg Properties Group, a national company that wanted to put a big box store there before local communities and governments came out against it. Maybe it’s time for the property owner to think of something else for that location, and we feel the community would embrace the return of a local landmark.

Summer on Long Island might be drier than any in living memory. Beaches might very well be restricted. Parks and sports fields and courts may be similarly closed. The annual summer concert series, hosted by Suffolk County legislators along with civic leaders in various locations across the North Shore, may very well not happen this year. 

It’s going to take ingenuity to fill the summer with something other than backyard escapades and hours spent couch surfing. 

Some places, such as Port Jefferson Village and the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove, are opening up some space for farmers markets, though the one at the mall has found unique success by having people stay in their cars and roll up to each individual stall along a line. 

We encourage more of our shopping centers to embrace outdoor dining experiences. Even as Long Island inches closer to starting the reopening process, many will find people may still be anxious of eating inside enclosed dining areas. 

But with that there has to be restriction and conscientiousness. On Memorial Day, downtown Port Jefferson was packed with a slew of people, many not wearing face coverings or practicing much social distancing. 

While we begin the reopening process this week, we should remember the worst-case scenario is a second wave of the virus that could force businesses to shut down all over again. Our local business owners are smart, and we’re sure they will think of unique ways to facilitate customers while keeping the virus from spreading once again.

News12 reporter Kevin Vesey is confronted by protesters at a rally in Commack on May 14. Photo by Rita J. Egan

At a recent rally, protesters of the lockdown asked why a reporter’s job was deemed essential when theirs weren’t. The question is a fair one, even though the way it was posed at a May 14 rally in Commack had reporters fearing for their safety.

Dissatisfied with the way News 12 Long Island’s Kevin Vesey reported a previous rally that took place May 1, protesters began to approach him aggressively as he took video footage with his smartphone for Facebook Live, which quickly went viral over the internet. First, there were two women with megaphones and then a few others joined in the shouting match. Vesey’s response was to keep backing up as he answered them calmly and continued recording.

One of our editors was also reporting on the scene and was on hand for the confrontation, moving in closer to hear the protesters’ concerns. It was concerning the way the small crowd questioned “who was essential” with such anger. With distrust in the media growing for years, exacerbated by constant “fake news” remarks, there seems to be less and less places safe enough for local reporters to simply report the news. 

If our reporter could have answered the question posed by the angry protesters and interrupted Vesey’s replies, she would have told them that if the media wasn’t deemed essential during this time, elected officials would only communicate with the public if they felt like it. They could put out whatever information they wanted to without being challenged.

President Donald Trump (R) did not calm the situation when he took the viral video of Vesey being confronted and lauded the small band of protesters, giving them and others the green light to their anti-free press rhetoric and intimidation. What should happen if Trump’s words result in violence toward journalists? 

What if that violence was directed at one of our members at our local newspaper? 

If we weren’t deemed essential, there would be no one there to ask the questions that are on people’s minds. You see, journalists are not creative writers. We don’t decide what we want to write every day and then make it up as we go along. We attend press conferences, we conduct interviews, we research — and we ask the questions that we believe are on our readers’ minds.

And when those in our coverage area have something to say, we print their letters to the editors, and we cover their events and rallies as best as we can. We do everything in our power to get the facts straight and to represent both sides of an issue if people on each side are willing to talk.

The Setauket Patriots, one of the organizers of the protests, apologized to Vesey for his treatment, saying they hope the reporter will offer fair coverage of the group’s events.

That is what reporters set out to do. Though we are forced to recognize we are human, and sometimes we make mistakes, a rally in Commack, New York, is not a place for such tense conflict. No reporters on such a scene should be fearful for their safety. We are there to relate what is on protesters’ minds in their own words.

While it’s understandable that people are in distress about their livelihoods, Vesey should have been approached in a less aggressive manner and with respect to personal space, especially when he obviously tried to respect the health of the people around him by wearing a mask and trying to keep 6 feet away.

Americans ask that the media be fair; we ask the same of Americans.

Photo by Kyle Barr

Small businesses are the Atlas of the economy. Too often attention is paid to the huge corporations, whose employment numbers are cited for why they need stimulus in times of crisis. However, when money circulates at the ground level, it tracks among the small businesses, our friends, our neighbors. 

That’s why it’s so disheartening to see a program meant to support those same small businesses first be shuttled through banks who simply weren’t prepared for it, then being abused by large companies it wasn’t made for, and now is seeing constant changes which may make using the loan a kind of poisoned chalice, one that looks appetizing but may just be a death blow to any who drinks from it.

The fact the Payment Protection Program was shunted through banks in the first place was a misstep. Many small business owners complained clients of the banks were given preference (and even among those, larger companies were prioritized). Smaller-sized banks themselves found they had to establish a whole new infrastructure for handling and dealing out these loans.

And then, companies with many more employees nationwide than the requisite 500 or under had received such loans because of loopholes in the lending requirements. Approximately 94 loans were made to publicly traded companies, totaling around $365 million. Reuters reported that well over 70 of these companies which received aid had months of emergency cash on hand to get them over the hump. The loans of up to $10 million were designed to tide over small businesses for eight weeks, rehiring staff in the process. 

A program that started with $349 billion has grown to $669 billion after thousands were left high and dry after the first round of loans. This program that was meant to support small businesses has contorted into a mess of paperwork that has many concerned it will saddle them with debt long term.

Some owners find they have no reason to take on their furloughed labor if none of them wish to return to work anyway. With many fearing the economic impact could last much longer than eight weeks, even more are concerned they may have to lay off employees once again just a short time after spending the funds.

Some businesses have reported anxiety at using the funds at all, fearing that they will somehow make themselves ineligible for the loan turning into a grant. Many businesses rely on independent contractors, but according to loan rules, none of the money received can be used for contract labor.

Politico wrote May 8 that the watchdog agency of the Small Business Administration (the SBA administers the PPP loans) reported the federal agency has strayed away from the original language of the law in creating new restrictions. PPP requires businesses to spend 75 percent of the loan on payroll to get forgiveness and that the balance must be paid back in two years. Both of these bylaws were absent from the original bill.

But questions still weigh heavily on the minds of business owners. Everything most people understand about the loans can still change. 

All this goes to show PPP was unleashed too hastily and clarifications have been much too slow to roll out. Small business owners need specifics and they need guarantees. Guidelines need to be strict enough to avoid scams while keeping in mind the reality of modern day small businesses. 

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) has already called for easing restrictions. Our other local federal representatives must hear owners’ concerns, and then relay those fears to the U.S. Treasury Department and SBA.

These small businesses need that help, because if we lose them, some of the best parts of our communities go with them.

Johness Kuisel with her granddaughter Caroline

Kyle Barr – Deborah Barr

Kyle Barr, right, with his mom Deborah and his twin brother, Kris

She was working even when she wasn’t. After coming home from her job as a secretary for an attorney in Riverhead, my mom would fret about what my family was going to eat for dinner. It didn’t matter if most of the people left in the house were self-sufficient, Mom was going to make something for everyone, she was going to vacuum the floor, she was going to start the laundry, and by 10 p.m. she would be snoring on the couch, as if her batteries were depleted and no amount of coaxing would get her to restart without a recharge.

I think I’ve got my sensibilities toward work from you, for either good or ill. By your example, I finish what I start, even in times like this. I don’t do things halfway, because each thing should be treated with care.

That is, at work, at least. I know you would still be ashamed to see the way I keep my home.

 

Courtney and Caroline Biondo – Johness Kuisel

Johness Kuisel with her granddaughter Caroline

To us, Johness is Mom and Granny. 

My mom is the driving force not only of my life, but for 44 years has been the heart and soul of Times Beacon Record newspapers. She is the epitome of class. She teaches me to always be my very best and always put forth my very best effort, more importantly as a mother myself.

Our Granny is the one to watch college football with on Saturdays, the NFL on Sundays and basketball during the week. Granny is always up for a trip to the beach to lounge in the sun and collect shells. Granny likes to sit with a cat in her lap after a long day and sip a Bloody Mary. Granny teaches us to never give up, because you’re often closest to succeeding when you want to forfeit. She teaches us to explore through travel and to always be eager to learn new things.

 

Daniel Dunaief – Leah Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief with his mom Leah 

When I was young, my mother started these papers. When I called her at work, Mrs. Kuisel answered, much as she does now. “Can I speak to my mom?” I asked. Mrs. Kuisel asked me who my mother was because so many mothers worked at the papers. The question is one I’m happy to answer every day. I’m proud to say that who I am and who my brothers are begins with being numbers 1, 2 and 3 sons of Leah Dunaief. Sure, my younger brother and I might argue about the order of importance, but we are all grateful to have learned numerous important lessons, including never to wear jeans in the ocean or to use apple juice to clean our faces, from a woman we’re fortunate to call mom. I wish her and all the other moms dealing with the ever-fluid new normal a happy Mother’s Day.

 

Rita J. Egan – Rita M. Egan

Rita Egan with her mom Rita

When I was a kid in Queens, more mothers were beginning to go to work full time, outside of the home. My mother was no different. At first, she worked as a cashier at Alexander’s Department Store, but she knew she needed to make more money, and she soon took a night class to brush up on her typing and shorthand. After a few different jobs, she eventually found herself working for Con Edison in its transportation department. She lived in Queens when she first began working there but eventually moved out to Smithtown. She would be up before the sun, even leaving before sunrise to catch the train, and while she soon became part of a carpool, the more convenient ride didn’t stop the early morning rush to be at the office by 7 a.m. I may not have inherited my mother’s knack for getting up before the crack of dawn, but I would like to think I take after her when it comes to getting up every morning and doing whatever it is that needs to be done, even when times are rough.

While Mother’s Day may be celebrated a little bit differently this year, here’s hoping we can all find some way to celebrate all the special women in our lives.

METRO photo

As the number of COVID-19 cases rise in minority communities at a higher rate than primarily white areas, North Shore residents may think those numbers don’t affect them, but they do.

The members of these communities are our co-workers, our restaurant workers, our laborers, our neighbors — whether they live next door or in the next town. The pandemic has made it glaringly obvious many of our society’s problems, among them the disparities minorities face on Long Island.

A good deal of information coming out about coronavirus cases shows that black and Hispanic Americans are dying of the disease at rates higher than Caucasians. In Suffolk black residents make up 13 percent of those who have died from the virus and Latinos 14 percent. These numbers are high considering black Americans make up just 8 percent of Suffolk County residents. Latinos are approximately 19 percent of the population, but the number of cases among the immigrant community is likely very undercounted, as crucial information about the virus has had a harder time reaching non-English speakers.

Many from these communities work “essential” jobs in service and blue-collar industries, many of which pay a lower income overall. This can lead to poor or no health care, which would hinder someone from visiting a doctor when they become sick. It also means many who would rather stay home lack a choice but to go out and work, potentially bringing the virus home to their families.

While Suffolk has identified areas where higher populations are testing positive for COVID-19, and in turn are extending testing in those areas, more can be done for these populations. This virus has reminded us that our health care system needs an overhaul — and that these populations are at greater risk due to higher cases of heart disease and diabetes. While it may be too late to make major changes during this pandemic, there are small things we can do right now.

For one, this is no time for one to worry about a person’s immigration status. During a pandemic, as health care professionals and elected officials try to manage the storm, everyone who is currently in the U.S. needs to know they can go to a hospital with no questions asked to receive the care they need. There also needs to be a way to provide alternating housing for those who come down with the virus, whether that means opening up hotel rooms or college dorms. There are many, right here on Long Island, who live in crowded apartments and houses. Situations like those make it difficult for someone to isolate themselves from others to prevent more infections. For those living in houses with multiple generations, this also presents a huge danger to vulnerable populations like the elderly.

Personal protective equipment has been in short supply throughout the country, and it’s up to elected officials as well as business owners to ensure that their employees have the proper amount of gloves, masks and other gear to do their jobs. It shouldn’t matter whether they’re on the front lines at hospitals or cleaning bathrooms in a medical facility, serving as home health aides, delivering groceries or working the fields.

There is always more we can do for our friends and neighbors. One day this pandemic will pass but let’s hope the lessons we’ve learned, especially about those who have suffered because of inequities, will stick with us and inspire us to do better.

Of all the things that have come undone since the start of the pandemic, one of the worst has been the loss of confidence in the systems that have governed us for so long. 

Our local businesses are experiencing untold hardship. People are suffering at home, furloughed or dismissed from their jobs, and many are having a hard time paying the bills or buying food. 

Beyond all that, people are dying. The most vulnerable —the old and those with underlying medical issues — have been the ones most harmed by the pandemic.

We’ve had a long time to come to terms with the issues in our society, but what the coronavirus has made clear is the brittleness of so many of our institutions. There has been more than one report about how the federal government failed to follow the pandemic response playbook present in prior administrations, and how the U.S., in a bid to tighten the financial belt, eliminated people in government whose job was to identify and mitigate such large-scale viral disasters.

We do not know how the end of this virus will play out. Doctors have said the only way for us to truly break away from the restrictions placed on us by SARS Cov-2 is to either develop a vaccine or have widespread, unprecedented testing of practically every U.S. citizen. States like New York have called for such tests, but the federal government has not yet hinted at doing anything close to what would be needed.

What is needed, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said so succinctly in his April 20 address, is less a reopening, but a reimagining of our systems.

“Let’s use this crisis, this situation, this time to actually learn the lessons … let’s reimagine what we want society to be,” Cuomo said.

The governor cited things like the public transportation system, which has for so long been a bane of so many commuters. The Long Island Rail Road has seen a near 95 percent loss in ridership and now faces real financial collapse. With that in mind, flip that picture, and imagine a service that is both fast and efficient in the vein of Tokyo’s or Seoul’s public transportation system. 

Imagine rent prices not being upwards of $1,500 for a studio apartment. Imagine housing prices that don’t restrict all but the middle to upper class affording a home on Long Island. Imagine young people not being pushed off the Island because of its general unaffordability.

This is what happens during a crisis. We see the things that have exacerbated the pandemic, namely a health care system that is simply not built to give the greatest amount of help to the greatest number of people. 

We witness the outsized unfairness that large businesses with thousands of employees nationwide somehow are allowed to apply for loans designated for small businesses. The Washington Post reported close to 70 large companies applied for and got loans through the payment protection program. While a company like Shake Shack actually returned the $10 million small business loan it received, the fact there were many thousands of businesses that could not get a dime despite applying as soon as they were able shows how high current processes are stacked against them.

We can do better, and if we can build upon the lessons made only more apparent during our time in isolation, we will be safer and prepared for a better world. 

Photo from Metro

COVID-19 has completely changed the way we all live.

But along with worrying about keeping themselves and their families healthy, thousands of small business owners across New York state are losing sleep over how to keep this virus from killing the businesses they have worked so hard to build.

At the same time, lawmakers in Albany are trying to craft a budget in the face of plunging revenues. Sales taxes — much of them generated by small business — brought in a whopping $73.6 billion last year. Our schools, as well as other vital government services, rely on these funds. When a business fails — and too many are on the precipice of failure right now — that sales tax revenue goes, too.

We believe a simple proposal could help restart local business and bolster sales tax revenues, but swift action is required by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and the state legislature.

Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. Everyone wants a thriving downtown where they can shop, eat or go to a movie. The good news is that small businesses have always been engines of innovation and entrepreneurship, and we are seeing that again today as they adapt to the new reality. Local gyms are streaming personal training sessions. Restaurants offer free delivery and online happy hours. Medical practices are expanding their telemedicine capabilities. Car mechanics are making house calls that require no personal contact at all.

Of course, it’s vital that these businesses let potential customers know about their services. That’s the role of advertising in all its myriad forms. But advertising costs money, and the sad truth is that advertising is one of the first things small businesses cut when times are tough.

Put yourself in the shoes of a local restaurateur with a stack of bills and very little money coming in. By the time she finishes paying the most urgent bills — rent, food suppliers, payroll — there’s not much left for advertising. Whatever stimulus money she gets from Washington or Albany will most likely be needed to keep the door open and the lights on. Yet studies show that how well businesses survive a downturn is in large part determined by whether they continue to market and advertise during the hard times.

Fortunately, there is a way for Albany to prime the sales-tax pump to keep revenue flowing to both small businesses and state coffers. Let businesses use some of the money they would have sent to Albany, as sales taxes, to market their new offerings. The formula would be simple: Every dollar a small business spends on advertising (up to some reasonable limit) would be a dollar saved off that business’s sales tax bill. 

It would be a win-win-win. Local businesses would be healthier because the increased advertising would jump-start sales. The state would get more sales tax revenue because local businesses would be selling more. And media companies (like ours) would benefit from the additional ad revenue. We’d like to think that we, too, are vital to the character and strength of our communities, not to mention our democracy. Think for a moment of the critical role that journalists have played in getting vital local information out to your community during this unprecedented crisis.

The legislature has a lot on its plate right now, and the temptation will be to bury this idea, or to take the shortsighted view that we can’t afford to do it right now. But right now is when it’s needed. We’ve been impressed with Cuomo’s levelheaded leadership in this crisis, and we call on him to back this innovative yet simple policy.

-— From the New York Press Association

Photo from METRO

In medicine, there is the concept of triage. Essentially, it is prioritization, the assignment of degrees of injury or illnesses that necessitates hard decisions. When resources are limited, and when the number of patients is staggering, medical teams often need to focus on who is in most dire straits. Beyond that, however even more morose, it is prioritizing patients that medical professionals believe can be saved and those who are more likely to die. 

It is not a healthy subject to think long and hard about if you’re not on the front lines of fighting the virus. It is something doctors have learned to do in war zones and during great hardships.

If things do not go smoothly, and if hospitals don’t have the correct amount of resources, personal protective devices, hospital beds and ventilators, then once we reach the peak number of cases, that is where events could lead. 

Photo from METRO

One of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) most recent and most controversial acts as of Friday, April 3, was to sign an executive order saying they would take necessary equipment like ventilators from hospitals upstate which have seen relatively few cases and transport them to the hospitals in the most need. 

That is in itself a sort of triage, a step to prioritize who needs such medical items the most. To say some hospitals, such as Stony Brook University Hospital, which was cited by Cuomo as a coronavirus hot spot, need more resources is to say they will be the ones who will be keeping even more people from dying from the virus. 

People are helping these hospital workers in any way they can. We have seen local businesses and business groups band together to offer food for hospital and EMS workers. We have seen local residents create masks and other personal protective equipment from cloth they had at home. Libraries have come together to 3D print necessary PPE in the form of face shields. We have seen so much good come from our North Shore and Suffolk County community.

But on the smaller end, with the people who are simply staying at home, we have to recognize just how much good that has done.

Cuomo recently stated they are hopeful we may be reaching the plateau in the number of cases New York is seeing. It won’t be the end of the issues. We will likely have to remain isolated for several more weeks, but the amount of good social distancing has done is evident. People simply staying at home, getting the exercise when they can and not shaking hands has likely prevented an even greater overload of New York’s medical systems.

Many people are feeling burdened with a sense they are doing nothing. They are out of work, and they have nothing on their plate. It’s a malaise that settles deep, and we should all be thinking of the people who did not have money at the start of this pandemic, and now have even less since being out of a job.

New York will have to grapple with that. We Long Islanders should not feel like we have simply wasted time in languishing at home. This is society in action, with many thousands of people making sacrifices for the whole. It’s a sort of triage of the self and of society, finding what is more important and focusing on that. We should focus on the people who mean most to us, our friends and family. We should focus on the people who are in the most need and attempt to reach them and offer whatever kind of support. And at the same time, we should focus on ourselves, rest and take some time to think. When this whole thing comes around, all that time we spent in our homes will not have been wasted. It will mean a society that has learned to care for others in a time of crisis.

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Rocco's Pizzeria in Mount Sinai donated pizzas to Mather Hospital's Emergency Room staff on April 2.

In his March 27 daily COVID-19 address, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the current pandemic will test the mettle of all residents, potentially shaping their person in the long road ahead.

“This is a moment that forges character, forges people, changes people, makes them stronger, makes them weaker, but this is a moment that will change character,” he said.

As we look around our coverage area, especially at the business owners, we can’t help but hope this crisis will make our communities stronger.

It would have been easy for many owners to just shut their doors when multiple executive orders paused nonessential businesses from offering their services, while requiring restaurants to stop sit-down service for the time being. With many still recovering a few years after the last recession, some are still dealing with low reserve funds, and while federal relief is being made available for small businesses, some owners wonder if the help will be enough.

However, most are being resilient — doing everything in their power to keep offering services to their communities. They aren’t looking at their bank accounts and saying, “We can’t do this in this environment,” they are saying they will do their best.

Restaurants are adapting to the new climate providing curbside pickup and amping up their deliveries, including those who didn’t offer these options in the past. With their finger on the pulse of residents’ needs, they are also offering specials giving patrons a choice of a certain number of trays of food at a value price, so a customer can pick up a meal one night and feed their family for a couple of days.

But even more than that, there are several examples of restaurants giving back to the community by offering free or discounted meals to the elderly, homebound and health care workers. Multiple businesses in Port Jeff have started delivering meals to local hospitals, aided by the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce and Port Jeff Business Improvement District.

Dancing schools, martial arts and yoga studios, as well as other fitness centers, are posting instructional videos to their websites and offering classes via Zoom, Facebook Live or other platforms. Even on-site tutoring businesses have embraced online tools to stay in touch with students and help parents with the current homeschooling situation.

These innovative ideas will help increase the owners’ chances of keeping their doors open once America comes out on the other side of this pandemic. It’s allowed them to keep on some of their staff members and will hopefully allow them to hire back those they had to lay off. It will keep their business names on residents’ minds.

The current challenges facing the business community can be an opportunity for them to grow, and many owners are realizing this. Small businesses are the heart and soul of our towns on Long Island. Thank you to the owners and their staffs for doing everything in their power to keep our communities’ hearts beating and souls hopeful.

From left, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D). Photo from the governor’s office

In the panic of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic that killed, by several differing estimates, 50 to 100 million people worldwide, nobody trusted anybody, whether it was their neighbors or even their friends or family. The distrust started early when the government started lying to them, telling them it was just another standard flu, not to be worried about. 

Once people saw men and women bleeding from their mouths and noses in the middle of the street, they knew it wasn’t just a mild influenza. The level of trust was so bad there were reports people starved in their homes, with nobody willing to bring them food in the most rural areas of this country.

A crisis requires clear leadership. It cannot be politically motivated. It cannot be muddled in the daily sparring of political actors. It has to be precise, meaningful and factual. 

We here at TBR News Media are thankful that some officials are doing just that today in our time of crisis. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has to be commended for his response to the coronavirus crisis. Cuomo laid his cards on the table. He has been upfront about getting people statistics and updates on what the state is doing. He has made more and more drastic decisions in order to curb the number of infected people within the state.

“If you are upset by what we have done, be upset at me,” he said at a March 17 press conference. “County executives did not do this. The village mayor did not do this. The city mayor did not make these decisions. I made these decisions.”

Cuomo added, “The buck stops on my desk … I assume full responsibility.”

By owning the problems these executive decisions have caused, the governor has accepted the responsibility for everything that is happening and will happen. 

That doesn’t just take guts, that takes a true sense of civic responsibility and leadership.

We agree with that. We need only look at Italy to see just how destabilizing the disease can be if it’s left unchecked for too long. Doctors and nurses there have been made to triage, making decisions that mean life and death for some patients rather than others. 

We should also laud County Executive Steve Bellone (D), who on his daily calls with the press has been forthcoming in all details related to COVID-19. His answers have so far been consistent, and we hope such reliable communication continues.

There is no way to know the true impact of everything going on here long term. As expansive testing makes its way onto Long Island, finally, the number of known cases has spiked. We have not seen the end of it, nor really the peak, medical experts have warned.

That’s not even mentioning the economic impacts. Companies, both large and small, being shuttered for weeks on end could mean many thousands of unemployed people in just a few short months regardless of stimulus packages from Congress. Business owners have had to limit hours and foot traffic, or otherwise close completely. Many of those storefronts may never open their doors again.

There’s something strange about how mankind seeks strong leadership in trying times. There have been more than one book and movie about how people have handed power over to tyrants when the stage is set for mass upheaval. 

But this is a case of officials doing what they were elected to do. Every measure is instigated with a calm reassurance with a note of trying to make things better. This is New York at its best. We saw it with 9/11, and we’re seeing it here again. 

That is the kind of leadership we need now.