Sobering words came from no less than the U.S. surgeon general to start the week.
“I want America to understand this week: It’s going to get bad,” Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” show Monday morning.
COVID-19 will continue to spread, Adams told viewers, in large part because people aren’t staying home and practicing social distancing. In places such as Florida and California, young people still flocked to the beaches, and in nearby D.C., crowds still walked the National Mall to see the cherry blossoms in bloom.
“Everyone needs to act as if they have the virus right now. So, test or no test, we need you to understand you could be spreading it to someone else,” he said. “Or you could be getting it from someone else. Stay at home.”
We even heard anecdotal examples right here in Frederick with reports of crowds in some non-grocery stores and other public places. Certainly not the social distancing that our health professionals and elected officials have in mind. We can do better.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan agrees.
A few hours after Adams spoke, Hogan brought more sobering news by adding even more restrictions on residents here. At his Monday morning presser, a visibly aggravated Hogan thanked the majority of residents who are staying home while chastising those who just don’t seem to get it.
Hogan also announced he had signed an executive order closing all nonessential businesses in Maryland to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. He said the action was necessary because some Marylanders are not respecting previous orders to avoid gatherings. Falling short of calling it a statewide shelter-in-place order, he said the decision was “absolutely necessary.”
We share the governor’s frustration. And we can only guess that if this doesn’t keep more people off the streets, Hogan could announce in the coming days even greater restrictions, potentially including a shelter-in-place order. As of Monday afternoon, nine states already have.
We ask people to keep this in mind. Maryland, which is not at the moment considered a “hot zone” for COVID-19, has had 288 confirmed cases as of Monday morning, which does not include two new Frederick County cases. That’s an increase of 100 cases since Saturday. Expect the number to increase significantly every day.
And as more testing becomes available, the number of known positive cases is going to increase exponentially. Those numbers are more a factor of discovery than spread, though. These results will likely add to the increased anxiety, stress and frustration people are feeling as they remain in their homes.
We get that these are not easy times. Many of our reporters, editors and other Frederick News-Post employees are working from home as well. We’re also looking forward to all of this being over.
But if staying home is what’s needed to save lives and slow down the impact of this coronavirus, then it’s what we have to do. Don’t look for a workaround. Look for reasons to heed the warnings.
“The way you stop the spread of an infectious disease like this is with mitigation measures and preventing people from getting it in the first place,” Adams said at the end of the interview.
We wish everyone would listen.