We have a new normal today. And it’s probably not going to go back to the way it was even a month ago.

We live in a pandemic world now, a place where we have to think about how we greet someone, eschewing handshakes, instead offering an elbow bump or a wave. We wash our hands more often, use hand sanitizer even more frequently (when we can find it) and we try to avoid touching our faces.

Work life, for many, increasingly means waking up in the morning and turning on your laptop at home, not commuting to the office. And if your health isn’t great, or if you’re over 60, you’re encouraged to stay home.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced a series of bold steps Thursday afternoon to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools and senior centers are closing, events with more than 250 people must be canceled and hospitals must restrict access to patients.

The state, Hogan said at a news conference, is entering a new phase of the pandemic as state health officials identified the first community transmission in Prince George’s County.

“The first case of COVID-19 community transmission in Maryland means we are entering a new phase of working to mitigate and limit the spread of this pandemic,” Hogan said in a statement. “What we are seeing now is what we have been anticipating and preparing for over the last several weeks.”

While the vast majority of people are recovering from this virus in a matter of weeks, health officials say some may take longer to feel better. And no one knows how long it might be before this spread subsides.

Until then, we’re likely to see more aggressive actions coming from government. They are likely temporary, but no one knows just how to define temporary. Are we talking weeks? Months? Even longer? No one can hazard a guess right now, because we’re in uncharted territory.

We’ve already heard comparisons to what’s happened this week to the days that followed Sept. 11, 2001. Those who lived through those days will likely remember the days of uncertainty, the fear of growing vulnerability and a reluctance, at least at first, to return to living a “normal” life.

Life did change that day, and with the benefit of hindsight, it’s become clear how sweeping those changes were. Security at airports, public events, and even how we apply for a driver’s license is far different now because of that horrible day when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a plane that was downed in Pennsylvania.

What’s happening with the new coronavirus, of course, is much different and far less sinister than what happened when our country was attacked by terrorists nearly 19 years ago. Instead of life changing because of security threats, now the country’s focus is on public health.

At this point, it’s hard to predict exactly how those changes will play out. We’re betting that we’ll see drastic changes to how we deal with public health. Will it be as simple as the availability of hand sanitizer, or will this spur more discussions of paid time off and universal health care?

There’s no doubt that years from now, we’ll be looking back on these days as a turning point in our lives. Much like Sept. 11, we’ll need the benefit of time to know exactly what that means.

(20) comments

DickD

The difference is we are being kept from a normal life now and if you get the virus it will be another 15 days with no guarantee of recovering. People still went to work and life was relatively normal after 911.

seadooit

FNP - where you said "because we’re in unchartered territory.", the correct word is "uncharted". The phrase comes from sailors finding themselves in an area not on their nautical chart. Thus, uncharted.

Dwasserba

"unchartered:— adjective

without a charter .

without regulation; lawless.

Origin: First recorded in 1795–1805; un- 1 + charter + -ed 2

Can be confused: uncharted unchartered"

jsklinelga

Once again. Sensible editorial. To put things in perspective here is a rough percentage of the number of people in the US infected: 0.00000342857

olefool

jsk: Where did you get this fake news. Or maybe you invented this number somehow. You sound just like your hero trump. Maybe you should sit out this election cycle, or at least quit bloviating this garbage.

Greg F

Olefool...or just fool? What in the blue blazes are you talking about? What number? They quoted 250...and that's been all over various sites. What other number are you talking about? Crying fake news...again...tf are you talking about?

olefool

olefool

0.00000342857 is what percentage of what? How do you know how many people are infected when there has been hardly any testing? It's just a number that means nothing because it's not verifiable..... Hence my opinions...

olefool

0.00000342857 is what percentage of what? How do you know how many people are infected when there has been hardly any testing? It's just a number that means nothing because it's not verifiable..... Hence my opinions...

Nicki

[thumbup] olefool!

rikkitikkitavvi

Hey fool, you sound like a typical Liberal Loony Leftist that hates anything Trump says or does. Good or bad. Why don't you sit out the next 5 years of your life in your safe space. At least your hero shillary isn't the President and never will be. Poor ole fool.

olefool

I always wondered why the name: rikkitikkitavvi, In Kipling's book "he was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits." It fits you just fine. So you're right and you're wrong about me, son... Right: I am a proud liberal, as are most people who claim to be liberal. Wrong: I don't like Trump, but I don't hate him, I just can't find any redeeming values about him that would fit into my idea of a president of the USA

I'm already in my safe place, been here for years on end. Hillary's history, too bad you can't accept that as fact, at least you don't seem to be able to get a grip on it. And finally, you're partially wrong on the last of your comments, I am old, but I am not poor. .

DickD

Nasty, nasty, rick!

Tanstaafl

Yes! Jsk is a very self-pleased troll. Worn out his welcome long ago!

Dwasserba

A majorly untested population does not result in accurate statistics.

jsklinelga

dwasserba

You are probably correct. I simply divided the number known by the population. The important number though is the mortality rate. That is a more precise figure.. The current number of deaths was 41 when I last checked. To get that percentage divide 41 by 331000000.

DickD

True, but without knowing the infected number we do not know how many might die in the future. What you are peddling is some of Trump's exaggerations.

DickD

You better pray it stays low, Jim!

jsklinelga

Sensible editorial. Let us hope that warm weather and accelerated FDA approval for medical vaccines and cures lessen the impact on our lives.

With this being a hotly contested election year in a country already splintering along social fault lines it makes it hard to predict what lies ahead. Couple that with the fact that we are broke an economic shock like this may have a very long term effect on our currency and standard of living. But who knows.

Many in this country no longer have faith in God. But there is still a substantial majority that do have a measure of faith. To those I implore: Pray. We have had the good fortune of living in the greatest country on earth at one the most prosperous eras of history. Let us be thankful for that and hope and pray that this crisis like others before it will soon be history.

olefool

"most prosperous eras of history"???? Not even in the top twenty. You're panicky, calm down.

"I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts". Abraham Lincoln

DickD

The total dead from all causes in the Civil war was 655,000.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war

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