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face masks

Help the Three Village Historical Society reach its fundraising goal of selling 100 face masks!

Help raise funds for the Three Village Historical Society by buying a “Three Village Strong” Face Mask!

The design, beautifully created by Setauket artist Sam White, features the 439 ton whaling ship Daisy, which was built at Nehemiah Hand’s shipyard along Shore Road in East Setauket in 1871-72 and, with naturalist Robert Cushman Murphy aboard, sailed on a whaling expedition to the Antarctic in 1912-13.

The triple-ply cotton face masks, which come in black or white, sell for $15 plus shipping at www.tvhs.org. The fundraiser runs through Sunday, Sept. 27. 100% of the proceeds will be used to help support and fund the Three Village Historical Society’s educational programming. For more information, call 631-751-3730.

A temporary sign asking for donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to Stony Brook University Hospital, April 2019
Face masks (top to bottom): surgical, N95, and handmade, Port Jefferson, May 2019

The Long Island Museum (LIM) in Stony Brook has announced that they will be seeking the collection of objects, images and stories as related to the COVID-19 coronavirus to document for future generations on how Long Island responded during the crisis. 

Titled Collecting Our History: Long Island During COVID-19, the compilation will serve as a record of the community’s shared history, and will influence future exhibitions, programs, research, and other projects. The LIM is particularly interested in seeking material that exemplifies how the virus has impacted victims, medical personnel and other frontline workers, the operation of businesses, schools, religious and cultural organizations, and the structure and interactions of our daily lives both large and small.  

“The COVID-19 coronavirus is the most severe pandemic to impact Long Island since the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1919,” said Jonathan Olly, Curator at the LIM. “It is affecting our lives in dramatic and sometimes tragic ways.”

People living or working on Long Island, in Brooklyn and in Queens are invited to offer contributions of any digital or physical item that documents their experience and that of their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. Material may include photographs, audio, and video, signs and posters, artwork, masks and other personal protective equipment, home recipes, journals, and planners. 

An empty paper goods aisle at Stop & Shop, Setauket, March 2019

Digital items can be emailed to [email protected] Photos should be in JPG, PNG, or TIF format, audio in MP3 or WAV, videos in MP4, AVI, WMV, or MOV, and documents in PDF, TIF, PNG, or JPG. All submissions must be by persons 18 years or older, and convey copyright (if applicable) to the Long Island Museum and include a description and contact information. 

“The LIM helps to preserve the experiences of Long Islanders and so we’re reaching out to our community to share with us the objects and images that help tell this story. In the coming years Collecting Our History: Long Island during COVID-19 will allow us to be able to look back on this time and see how it changed us, and how we persevered,” said Olly.

Select online submissions may be featured on the LIM’s website and/or social media platforms. Due to the volume of submissions the LIM may be unable to individually notify people if or when their digital submissions will be posted. The LIM prefers not to have objects sent to the Museum at this time, as the offices are currently closed. 

For further questions, please email the LIM’s Assistant Collections Manager, Molly McGirr at [email protected], or LIM’s Curator, Jonathan Olly at [email protected]

METRO photo

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

This is the year we all disappeared behind our masks. “Who is that masked man?” people would ask about the Lone Ranger, as he rode the range decades ago in every child’s imagination and kept the peace. Now they might ask the same question of us, masked men and women and children, as we peacefully go about our new freedoms of shopping and ordering meals for alfresco dining. We are not always immediately recognizable behind the variety of face coverings we see on the streets. The importance of wearing a mask has been accepted by almost everyone, and with good reason. An example of the benefits can be found in Japan.

According to Motoko Rich, a reporter for The New York Times, face coverings are common in Japan during flu and hay fever seasons, on crowded public transportation when commuters commonly have colds and even when women “don’t want to bother putting on makeup.” Mask sightings are routine.

Could that be the explanation for Japan’s surprisingly low number of victims of COVID-19 compared to other countries?

Initially, we Americans were advised not to wear masks, that they were unnecessary and should be saved for hospital workers. We all know what happened next. Cases of novel coronavirus spiked and the number of deaths exceeded the capacity of morgues and funeral homes for weeks. We were directed to shelter-in-place. Yet in Japan, which did not order a lockdown or massive testing or emphasize social distancing, and kept karaoke bars open and public transportation packed, terrible spikes in cases and deaths did not occur. The numbers there were 17,000 infections and 900 deaths. Yes, they have a smaller population, but in the United States, whose residents number two-and-one-half times that of Japan, some 1.9 million have fallen ill and 110,000 have died.

Eventually bars and businesses did close, and schools were shut early, as cultural and sports events were canceled, but note that none of those restrictions was mandatory. What the people did do was to nearly universally don masks. That response follows a cultural tradition of hundreds of years. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, mining workers used masks to prevent inhaling dust. The Japanese wore them during the 1918 flu epidemic and more recently during SARS and MERS outbreaks, as well as to protect against pollution and pollen. The country was “relatively unscathed,” during the epidemics, according to Motoko Rich.

Members of the scientific community weigh in on the matter. “I think there is definitely evidence coming out of COVID that Japan, as well as other countries which practice mask-wearing, tend to do much better in flattening the curve,” said  Akiko Iwasaki, a professor of immunobiology at Yale, as quoted in the NYT. 

Masks can block respiratory droplets that are emitted when people speak, cough or sneeze. Those droplets may carry the virus, even when the wearer has no symptoms, and hence transmit the disease if not captured by the mask.

The reporter goes on to emphasize that masks alone are not sufficient to prevent disease, that social distancing is also required. Even with masks, crowds are a danger for the spread of infection. It will be informative to learn the unintended health consequences of the many protests against racism, triggered by George Floyd’s death under the knee of a police officer, that have occurred over the past two weeks. Most of those protesters, crowded together, seemed to be wearing masks.

From my travels to Japan, I would add a couple of cultural differences to this story. We found the Japanese to bow rather than shake hands and to be a little physically distant with each other rather than hugging often. Their country is, for the most part, amazingly clean and uncluttered, and they seem fastidious about themselves. These traits would also argue in favor of less contagion when disease is present.

I would also like to predict that masks — designer, decorated, color coordinated, whatever — will be with us well after the pandemic ends.

Photo from METRO

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Perhaps the worst is over. With this first phase of recovery for Long Island, suddenly there is hope that the strange pandemic life we are leading will pass into history. Of course, we are far from home free. The virus is still just as contagious and the threat is still real. We continue to ache for those whose lives have been cut short by this virulent disease, and our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones without even a farewell or proper service. 

But we have, to a great extent, adapted to a coexistence with the virus as we wear face masks, habitually practice social distancing, wash our hands frequently for at least 20 seconds each time and otherwise limit our interactions with family, friends and colleagues to regular Zoom sessions. 

Working remotely, for those who can, has proven not to be so bad and will probably carry over well beyond sheltering-in-place. And for those on the front lines of response, the intensity, if not the fear, may have somewhat diminished.

We are thrilled to see the stores open up, if only for curbside or doorway pick up of items. Some of the establishments have constructed barriers to keep customers safely apart or added ultraviolet lighting to kill the microbes. And perhaps those on unemployment can now be called back to work. 

Some may not return even though they are required to respond to their employer’s call. Ironically, they may be doing better financially by being on unemployment, at least for the short term. The federal government has put itself in competition with small businesses, who can’t pay workers as much, and sometimes the Feds win. Those small businesses that have received the Payroll Protection Plan money are able to call back workers and to pay them until their eight-week period runs out.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who has built up quite a following for his daily briefings and won positive ratings for his down home manner, offered this as he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday: “Wearing a mask has got to be something you do every day. When you get up, when you walk out of the house, you put the mask on. This is cool.” 

He also admonished people not to be rude to those who might not be wearing masks, that we should encourage them to do so nicely and politely. He did go on to add, recognizing that he was, after all, governor of New York State, “But it’s New York. We have to be careful that nice and polite stays nice and polite.” 

Cuomo met with President Donald Trump (R), a longtime fellow New Yorker, Wednesday, and urged spending for infrastructure as a way to provide many jobs. That goal was mentioned by Trump shortly after he took office in 2017 and is considered one of the few subjects on which there could be bipartisan support. In particular, Cuomo advocated for an AirTrain to La Guardia Airport, a rail tunnel under the Hudson River and a northern extension of the Second Avenue subway.

It is most unfortunate that, along with the deadly consequences of the novel coronavirus, there is an underpinning of highly partisan sentiment in the country. Traditionally, when there is a crisis, Americans pull together. Certainly that was true during Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy, for example. But the nature of this pandemic is asymmetrical in that areas of greater density tend to be more stricken, while those more rural or away from the big cities and the coasts are more lightly touched. 

It is hard for those not in the throes of the ghastly metrics of death and affliction to feel the extreme stress of those who are. It just so happens that the divide between red and blue states overlays our map, not perfectly, but remarkably. Suffolk County, considered a red county, yet in a dense area, is an exception with its high casualties. 

So we have those demanding an “opening” of the economy vs. those who are concerned about contagion. We must unfailingly continue to practice what has worked to win us entry thus far into Phase One.