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The New Normal

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One of the harder parts of writing a public safety column is that while the information is based on facts and data, the facts and data can change. This is occurring often during the evolution of this pandemic, and what was accurate last month, week, or even yesterday is now different. We are now living in a new world.

This pandemic will form a new normal. Imagine the reaction if as recently as January, I wrote that schools would be shut and malls would be closed, let alone that the whole world would be on quarantine. Most experts were not even hinting to that, and now that is our current situation.

New York is one of the most impacted areas of the world, and our government leaders and experts feel that we are still weeks away from its apex. We all need to do our part to help flatten the curve. It is not only our sick and elderly who are dying from COVID-19 complications. Otherwise healthy people are fighting for their lives, in the ICU's and on ventilators. Healthcare workers and first responders are operating in crisis mode, being told to extend the use of their protective equipment, not because of the reduction of contagions, but because there is simply not enough supply.

In a pandemic, decisions have to be made quickly and with limited information. Our healthcare system has been overwhelmed. It is not designed to operate under these conditions. This has exposed the fragility of the system, and moving forward, we need to integrate that events like this may be part of our new normal. 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy created new norms, who knows what lies ahead.

This pandemic has brought a tremendous amount of stress, heartache and tragedy, and sadly it is not over. It has also brought tears of joy. A silver lining must be seen as well. We lived in a world that at times has been polarized to say the least. This pandemic has shown that we can work together. It has exposed the unsung heroes who are often overlooked! The nurses, EMTs and grocery workers who are often left out of the spotlight, are now our superheroes. The simple things like board games with your children or a video chat with your parents are now being appreciated. It has united communities to spread love and cheer! When my five-year-old son was crying that he couldn't celebrate his birthday with his friends, the community stepped up! I was fighting back tears as a caravan of cars, many of which I'd never met were honking their horns, delivering balloons and celebrating it with him. Memories like that are what we can hold onto when reflecting.

We need to continue to help flatten the curve, while we all may not be suffering from serious complications, others are. As a community, we individually and collectively need to do our part to help.

Make sure to check the legitimacy and timeliness of what you read on the internet, please unplug if you are getting overwhelmed. The effects of this pandemic impact your mental and physical health. NYS Dept of Health has shared resources and guidance on when to call your doctor, call 911 or go to the hospital. The guidance can change, so instead of including it in this column, and please refer to their postings.

I'm not going to offer any advice in this column other than; spread peace and love, not germs.

Stay Well.

Sam Pinto is a career firefighter, paramedic, nationally certified fire instructor, and certified fire and life safety educator.