Summer Life in New England During Covid-19 Pandemic

June 26, 2020— After being confined for nearly 4 months since the pandemic outbreaks in March, people are trying to find their “new normal” life understanding that thousands of lives are still lost everyday across the United States. Here in New England, Massachusetts, where I live, there are over 100,000 people infected with Covid-19 and that nearly 10,000 thousands people died. I myself have suffered a great deal during the pandemic, having lost my mother to cancer and unable to travel to be with her because of the travel restrictions. Store closures caused our newspaper circulation to drop in the last three months; but we managed to print two issues in April, with reduced quantity, one issue in May and one in June. In July, as New England reopening is going to into phase two, we are resuming two issues per month.

Aiden Pin, Photo by Soben Pin at Windmill Beach, South Yarmouth, MA

In the last two weeks, we spent time going outdoors for the first time after quarantining ourselves for three months. We traveled up and down the coast between Newport Beach, Rhode Island, to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, to New Castle, New Hampshire and to Ogunquit & Portland, Maine. I will share you what I have learned so far so that you may exercise cautionary steps in taking your family out this summer. The “new normal” that we all must adjust to in order to navigate our every day life is that we all now have to look at everything in a new way.

As States begin to reopen partially, restaurants, beaches, etc, we found ourselves more comfortable going into unpopular destinations where fewer people travel. Traveling by car help us find places which would allow us to camp for the day, such as today, we found an island which we normally wouldn’t venture to, Cape Elizabeth. There we visited the Port William State Park where there are many picnic tables with ocean views, beaches, and a couple beautiful lighthouses, part of Portland Maine’s coastline.

Windmill Beach, South Yarmouth, MA

Hotel stays. We bring a bottle of 70% alcohol and spray everything after entering our room including the TV remote control, keys, and door knobs. We wear masks when we were near people until we reached our destination and not being near people. It felt safe. We keep an alcohol spray in the car, wash our hands anytime after we go out to the market. I keep an alcohol spray in my purse and spray our hands before and after we eat. We chose take-out foods when restaurants are full, even with the 6 ft social distancing between tables. We prefer to sit outside where everyone is at least 10 feet apart. So far we have not run into any issue about spacing with a few exceptions such as downtown Portland, Maine and Newport Beach where many young people are gathering at the restaurants and bars in large crowds. This may explain why Covid-19 cases are spreading among younger people under 40 years old. According to the Center for Disease Control, 900 thousands cases are diagnosed in young people age 18-44, 700 thousands cases between 45-64, and 200 thousands people 65 and over who are infected by Covid-19.

Downtown Portland, Maine part of reopening phase, closed several streets for restaurants to serve outdoor dining.

While in Maine, we found everyone more relaxed, beside service workers, only a few people were wearing masks, and we felt it was almost scary. However, we can understand that in a state with a population of 1.3 million, only 200 died from Covid-19, and over 3,000 cases total, people don’t feel the threat of the corona virus. Similar to the population of Maine, in New Hampshire there are 5,600 cases and 365 deaths. Compared to Massachusetts, with 6.9 million people, the number of cases are staggering more than 5 times higher. In Rhode Island, the number of infected people are16,000 with 900 deaths. The total population of the state is 1 million.Although the curve in Massachusetts is flattening from 5,000 cases a day in the third week of April to 233 cases a day as of June 26, the experts are saying a second wave is coming. We hope Massachusetts will not be affected, but we cannot know for certain.

There are 2.5 million cases in the United States and 125,000 people have died. The cases are going up in the states including Florida, there are 9,000 new cases in one day on June 26 as the state reopened for a few weeks, the second wave struck. In Texas, 1 in 10 people are infected. States of Arizona and California are also spiking upward. If you have travel plans to these states, you may have to self quarantine upon return to states like Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

Soben Pin, Publisher of Khmer Post USA

Last but not least, I recommend that our readers stay local in New England this summer and avoid taking flights unless it is necessary. The closed air confinement in the plane is what makes the virus linger around; even though the middle seats are empty, there are not enough social distancing and you should be wearing masks at all time. The “new normal” is that we should look at how simple family life used to be when there were limited bars, restaurants, theatre and sports. We should consider these activities as a luxury now in the time of Covid-19 and practice social distancing when you do so. When you don’t feel well, stay at home. When you feel the flu-like symptoms including the lost sense of smell, you should get tested for Covid-19. Experts are saying that there maybe ten times higher than 2.5 millions Americans infected now because of the limited testing capacity. So be vigilant. There are 10 millions people infected by Covid-19 in the world in the last six months and already half million people died globally. I urge everyone to continue practice social distancing and be safe. This could last another six months.