It was a busy, summer day on Plandome Road in Manhasset on a Wednesday afternoon, with children playing at Mary Jane Davies Green, potential customers window shopping and heading into their favorite stores and busy small business owners, managers and workers serving those customers.
And while not an usual scene for Manhasset’s downtown, there is one difference that could easily be seen from the same day last year; normalcy.
Inside For Five Coffee Roasters, for instance, customers were seated at tables; sipping lattes, working on their computers or catching up with friends. The workers interacted with the customers inside the busy cafe, with facial expressions no longer hidden by a mask.
A manager of For Five Coffee Roasters, Christos Papagiannopoulos, when asked how he felt about being able to see the customers facial expressions again, said he could always tell they were smiling when he saw their eyebrows raised.
“We had a lot of eyebrows going up in here, so we feel like we were doing the right thing for everyone,” Papagiannopoulos said. “We kept it very safe here. We did the six feet, we did the barricades and we did everything we needed to do to actually follow what we were told to do. And that made everyone feel a lot safer and kept us going through everything.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in May released guidance for fully vaccinated people that would no longer require the vaccinated population to wear masks or social distance indoors or outdoors in most places. New York State adopted the guidelines on May 17. Large school indoor event venues, schools, homeless shelters and other congregate settings must still adhere to Covid-19 health protocols, however.
“What New York has done is extraordinary,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference. “Not only do we have the lowest Covid positivity rate in the United States of America, we have hit 70 percent vaccination ahead of schedule. We successfully deployed the weapon that will win the war and New York led the nation.”
Approximately 78.5 percent of people older than 18 in Nassau County have received at least one dose of a vaccine that will free them from isolating precautions, such as social distancing and wearing a mask, that have been in effect since March 2020.
“I feel that the world is going to come back very strong,” Papagiannopoulos said. “I feel that people want to be out. I feel that the fact that it’s summer is going to help people rebuild their businesses correctly and I see that everyone wants to be out doing their thing. They really want to experience life again because they forgot what it was like for a long time. Even people who did not experience it much before are going to be getting out of their house to try to enjoy it a lot more because it’s opened up their eyes to what could happen one day.”
Part of the effort to allow people to experience life as it once was are two local vaccinators, Kevin Askari and Leanne Finamore, at the Manhasset Park Drug.
“It was really cool when the kids, the teenagers were approved to get vaccinated,” Finamore said. “There were so many parents who said ‘my kid is going to get vaccinated and go to summer camp.’ It has been cool to see people excited to be able to go back into the world protecting themselves and protecting others because they are vaccinated.”
Askari agreed, adding that a year-and-a-half of taking precautions have been enough. They were both excited that since April, Manhasset’s local pharmacy has been able to vaccinate thousands of community members with the BioNTech, Pfizer vaccine. Once they received the vaccine, they both said, they set up Manhasset Park Drug to become a vaccination site practically overnight.
“It’s a safe vaccine and we want people to get vaccinated,” Finamore said of the 95 percent effective shot. “There are some minor side effects, but they are very manageable and they only last a couple days. Knowing that you could protect yourself and protect others by being vaccinated is a good thing.”
And as community pharmacists, Askari wanted to assure the community that he and Finamore, an EMT, are there to answer any questions thrown their way.
To schedule a vaccination appointment with Manhasset Park Drug, visit mpdrug.com.