Editorial: How could CT proms go wrong during COVID? Consider some baseball crowds

To the screen on the left is Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine outlining rules for his state to host high school proms, graduations and parades later this spring. When asked how rules regarding masks and social distancing will be enforced, DeWine replied that he is relying on common sense.

To the screen on the right is the crowd at a Major League Baseball game in recent days. Let’s check in on the Texas Rangers’ season opener, where social distancing was encouraged and team officials pledged to enforce a mask mandate.

Hmmm. Of the 40,300 seats, 38,283 were reportedly filled. Not a lot of elbow room, let alone anything of the 6-feet variety. It was likely the largest sports gathering in the United States since the pandemic kicked into high gear in March 2020.

How about those masks? Let’s put it this way, the Lone Ranger would have worn one of the few in this crowd.

We’ll expand the split screen by adding Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont responding to the notion of holding parades, proms and graduations in the coming months.

“I think graduation, primarily outside, everyone wearing the mask, you can count on that,” Lamont said.

“Count on.” Two words that haven’t been paired very often in the past year. They probably should stay on hiatus for the time being.

Memorial Day, the unofficial official start of summer and inspiration for local parades, is almost two months away. A lot will change during that time, with thousands of state residents booking time to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

About 45 percent of Connecticut adults received at least one dose as of Monday. There’s a chasm of difference between one shot and fully vaccinated, so hopes of proms and graduations now tilt the public discourse significantly.

Lamont sets a reasonable goal that the state is poised to embrace confidence about hosting major events by May 1. While the concept of starting distribution with older residents and working downward is the simplest of strategies, there must now be an emphasis on getting younger residents vaccinated.

It can’t come down to trust. Spring break crowds busting curfews and ignoring social distancing in Florida was a cautionary tale.

We’ve officially reached the point in this crisis where numbers are being spun like they’re in a state lottery drum. The state’s weekend positivity rate still exceeds 3 percent, but is dropping. And while Connecticut ranks high among states for cases, it remains among the lowest for deaths related to COVID-19 per capita.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Rochelle Walensky commented that “I understand that people are tired and ready for this pandemic to be over ...”

It’s not a sentence that needs to be completed. We should all know by now that caution remains the only path forward.

That means instilling a framework of common guidelines for municipalities trying to plan proms, graduations and the like. Connecticut needs a shared vision. This is no time for split screens.