We can’t say we weren’t warned. As COVID infection rates dropped in the late spring and early summer, we enjoyed some of our newfound freedom after the horrors of March, April and early May. That was only natural, and we could do it, because we largely did it outdoors.

But the virus kept spreading, especially in those areas it hadn’t hit hard yet, and cases climbed. And when the cold drove us back indoors more often, many people let their guard down. Whether it was COVID fatigue, a teenage-like rebellion against common sense and authority or a genuine belief that the worst was behind us, people got sloppy. And now we’re beginning to pay the price, with a rise in cases that seems inexorable.

Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday ordered more restrictions on businesses, specifically ordering bars and restaurants to cease any table service at 10 p.m.; for gyms to close at that time too; and for people to not gather in groups of 10 or more. Just in time for Thanksgiving. And our positive test rate is closing in on the number that would shut down the schools, another nightmare.

We can only have a hope of staving off unbearable increases in death and disease, along with a return to soul-crushing and socially destructive lockdowns, if we get much better very quickly at stemming COVID’s spread. Wear the mask — not a bandanna but an actual surgical mask, or better. Stay the hell away from people. Wash your hands, constantly. If we all do this, maybe winter won’t be too bad. Otherwise, it’s going to be hideous.

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