Spring, Coming on Fast



I went to a high school football game Saturday. It’s springtime, it doesn’t make sense, right? But such are the times we live in that high school football in New York state is being played in a ‘Fall II’ season between the end of winter sports and the beginning of spring sports.

Anyway, it was a good game. In fact, all across Putnam these past few weeks, football and volleyball players, as well those students in competitive cheerleading, are practicing, competing and engaging one another on close-to-normal terms.

It leads me, again, to think that this summer will be nearly ‘normal,’ or as close as can be gotten in these still odd times.

So what should we do? Step 1 is simple: Get vaccinated. As of April 1, at least 35,086 Putnam residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine (two of the three approved vaccines take two shots to be fully effective). I can report that finding an appointment is no longer a near impossibility. More shots are being given at more places in Putnam County, finally. This comes after an unusually slow start, so slow that some had to drive hundreds of miles to find a shot. So slow that one wonders if Gov. Andrew Cuomo was off-base in his desire to run the vaccination program through his friends at regional hospitals, rather than through county health departments. The county offices, after all, are the established, tried-and-true mechanism for this kind of thing. Tested, trained, ready-to-go. The hospitals are used to working in, well, a hospital setting, where everyone knows the rules, the records are already made, the supplies are at the ready. Not so much like working in a church hall, a recreation center, a senior center or a firehouse, among the other places where our Health Department has helped vaccinate people in recent days.

Step 2, I am begging you, don’t stand on ceremony, with a holier-than-thou attitude that you’re going to wait until every single first responder or old person has been vaccinated. If you are eligible, get vaccinated. At this point, your waiting is just holding up the line.

And Step 3, skip the angst about the so-called ‘vaccine passport.’ What do you think is happening when you register your child for kindergarten? When you seek to travel to another country? The authorities will check your vaccination status. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

I understand the origins of the vaccine hesitancy. A number of people in my extended family are afflicted by it. And then I think of lining up in school to get the polio vaccine. Of the people I knew as a child who’d been struck by polio. It takes a lot of hubris to think you can skip the coronavirus vaccine and beat a disease that so far, as of Monday, has killed 550,000 people in this country. Half a million dead, in just over a year.

Not a gamble I’d take. I’d rather be around to watch another season of high school football, next school year in the fall. ** Saturday night, we watched the NCAA men’s semifinal in basketball. The one between Gonzaga and UCLA, the one where Jalen Suggs, with mere moments left on the clock of the first overtime, fired off a shot from just inside the half-court line. It went in as time expired, Gonzaga won the game 93-90, and all over the nation, we pondered that miracle shot. It will be tough for the final (set for Monday night, after our presstime) between Gonzaga and Baylor to beat that. It was just a year ago, remember, that the NCAA tourney was canceled just as it was getting started. NBA games, canceled. Large gatherings, Easter church services and more, canceled. My partner sewed masks for us, as did many of you.

I have a soft spot for the NCAA tourney. Partly because I’m a Kansas grad, and it has a storied basketball program (not so much this year). But also, it’s just great basketball. Gonzaga and UCLA, those players left everything on the court.

Until next week. Douglas Cunningham is editor of the Putnam County Courier and the Putnam County News and Recorder, in Cold Spring. Reach him at 845-265-2468 (usually in the office at least part of Saturday and Sunday) or by email at

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