Holiday revelers need to keep safety in mind

Many people will get a break this weekend, when many businesses observe the Labor Day holiday on Monday. Traditionally the three-day weekend is considered the last chance to take a minivacation.

The holiday couldn’t come soon enough for some people who have gone stir crazy from staying at home all summer, whether it’s because they are observing imposed self-quarantine orders or because so many popular spots are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there’s not much to do.

Some people might decide they deserve — perhaps even need — a chance to get out of the house, perhaps head to the beach or some other outdoor venue; maybe even visit family or friends in another city, as long as they can get away from the same walls that might seem to be closing in on us on some days.

Any such plans, however, need to include continued practice of recommended safety precautions.

Business closures and restrictions on outdoor activities have been especially strong in the Rio Grande Valley, where the virus has hit especially hard. For much of the summer all Valley hospitals have been filled with COVID-19 patients, forcing many people to forgo elective surgeries and other nonemergency procedures.

Fortunately, the numbers are starting to look better; the number of reported infections, and deaths, have been falling in the Valley and across the state.

That’s certainly good news, and it inspires hope that the trend will continue and the public threat of catching the coronavirus will continue to ebb to the point that life can return to normal.

We’re not there yet, however. While the numbers continue to fall, they remain relatively high; Cameron and Hidalgo counties both report hundreds of new positive tests and double-digit deaths every day. They contribute to more than 2,000 daily new COVID-19 cases statewide.

Any optimism must be tempered by recollections of the initial partial lowering of restrictions in April, at a point much like we see now: numbers were falling but remained high. Many people dropped their guard — and their facemasks — and the state found itself mired in a new wave of viral cases.

It was that second wave that hit South Texas the hardest, perhaps because many people came to enjoy the popular beaches of South Padre Island and other tourist attractions. Even after restrictions were reimposed, those beaches continued to fill with people defying the restrictions.

To be sure, many of those restrictions have met with resistance. Many people have chafed at the idea that their freedoms were being curtailed. The results of such resistance are clear, however; we will never know how many lives might have been saved, and how much suffering might have been avoided, if so many people had not been so defiant.

So as the Labor Day weekend approaches, we hope that those who can escape the everyday pressures enjoy the opportunity. But we pray that everyone continues to keep their guard up, and continue to wear masks, practice social distancing, wash and sanitize frequently and take other measures to protect themselves and their loved ones.