The news on the pandemic has been so positive recently – from economic recovery to the end of the general mask mandate — that a cynic might fear the good times just cannot last.

A bit of skepticism is usually justified in a health crisis none of us has ever endured, but we have come to believe that if the pandemic is not ending, we can see the finish line from here.

The number of new cases of COVID-19 has been in a steady decline here and around most of the country, as have the number of deaths and hospitalizations from the virus.

Nearly half of Frederick County’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 40 percent are fully vaccinated.

Children as young as 12 are now permitted to receive a vaccine, increasing the likelihood that, in Maryland at least, vaccinations will increase to the point at which most people and many children will soon be fully protected

With better numbers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines on wearing masks, saying that fully vaccinated people need not wear one indoors or out, except in rare circumstances.

Gov. Larry Hogan and County Executive Jan Gardner have lifted almost all restrictions on indoor dining and shopping, leaving the continuance of the rules to the retailers and restauranteurs.

Hogan, following closely to the CDC guidelines, said the only exceptions to the end of the mask mandate will continue to be public transportation, health care settings and schools.

“Today is the day that so many of us have been waiting for and working towards: We finally do clearly see that light at the end of the tunnel,” the governor said.

The good news continued to build with the latest financial projections from the state. While Maryland lost 400,000 jobs during the pandemic, the doomsday scenario that analysts also feared never materialized.

Andrew M. Schaufele, director of Maryland’s Bureau of Revenue Estimates, explained to the Washington Post that the picture is rosier than anyone could have predicted.

“We knew [COVID-19] was going to directly impact the service industry and retail, but we thought that it would spread out to other industries, which is what happens in most recessions,” Schaufele said. But the financial contagion did not happen.

Last May, analysts had predicted our state revenues would fall short by $925 million by the end of June. Instead of crashing over the financial cliff though, the state economy rebounded nicely, in large part because of the stimulus package passed by the federal government.

Expanded unemployment benefits saved many lower-income families from disaster because job losses were concentrated in lower-paying industries and that money also helped to keep the economy afloat.

Schaufele told the Post that projections now call for a $161 million surplus over expectations for next year’s revenue, with tax collections strong among higher-income workers. Low-wage jobs have still not recovered, he said, but they account for just 6.1 percent of Maryland’s income tax revenue.

Schaufele said Maryland expects to receive $55 billion to $60 billion in total federal stimulus spending. That is about 11 percent of the state’s entire economy and similar to the revenue generated by the state’s largest industry — professional and business services.

“It’s like we created another industry in our state. The amount of money is staggering,” Schaufele said.

In addition, the federal government was able to move fast to help, quickly injecting stimulus money into the economy.

“If that money had leaked out slowly, the recession would have leaked out and impacted other sectors, almost certainly,” Schaufele added.

Now, we all need to finish the job of defeating the pandemic. Gov. Hogan noted the state of emergency remains in place, even with restrictions lifted.

Vaccine hesitancy is the only fly in the ointment of positive news. As many as a third of Americans say they are waiting to see how the vaccines perform or they are not planning to ever get their shots.

Hogan said the state would not be checking to see whether people not wearing a mask had gotten their shot. But it just makes sense for everyone to be vaccinated if they can get the shots.

Yes, it is a personal decision, but any new surge of hospitalizations and deaths would take a toll on our health care system and on society in general.

It still needs saying: Get the damn shot.

(14) comments

olefool

Let's hope that "light at the end of the tunnel" isn't a fast moving freight train coming towards us.

bosco

It is, and the Democrats holding a spotlight looking for more ways to borrow money to throw away on pork.

"Schaufele said Maryland expects to receive $55 billion to $60 billion in total federal stimulus spending. That is about 11 percent of the state’s entire economy..."

Where do you think the trillions in pork is coming from?

olefool

One man's pork is another's bacon... Disasters are truly democratic, targeting all victims in their wake regardless of politics or ideology, socioeconomic factors, race, gender or creed.

Greg F

Bonzo, the Government wouldn't have to borrow money if a certain elephantine party would not keep giving the farm away to the already wealthy by massive tax giveaways and the incessant "trickle" policies that only trickle it up more like a fountain vs trickle. Ya gotta have revenue if you want to buy things....you can't give it all to your rich, drunk uncle.

eastmoonrabbit

It's all coming from POOR old Rosco Bosco's estate.

Greg F

Hope it's not...but then at this point if you want to walk into the tunnel without the safety of a vaccine...I really don't care if the train splatters you all over the tracks. https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/op-eds?id=A399D39C-FA36-4EBB-9EC9-9A2C8E748E96

Dwasserba

What can I say. The “home health aide” assigned to a fragile member of my family after an extended hospitalization is the one who talked them out of it with, “nobody knows how it will affect you in ten years.” You’re that sure you even have ten years?! Others who are intentionally unvaccinated here are people I’ve encountered in other health-related roles. The vibe that “they know more” is infectious.

bosco

Well, maybe nobody knows how the vaccine will affect you in ten years, but haven't we learned how Covid affects older people right now?

I wonder if that home health aide also thinks you can catch a cold - a virus - from being outside in the cold. I've heard nurses express that sentiment.

You need to be your own advocate and do your own research and due diligence.

Greg F

Bonzo, that's not entirely true. In nearly every case with vaccines, any serious side effects were discovered within 60 days. There may have been an extreme outlier more rare than even the 0.0000001% who got clots (which is insignificantly different from the background noise of clot cases in the general pubic who aren't vaccinated). We now don't have to worry about getting polio, small pox, mumps, whooping cough and much more. We still with this have to worry about killing granny or getting sick enough to require hospitalization for those not vaccinated....you want to pay their bills? Remind me never to bring you to a casino...you would never get the odds.

Greg F

Here you go Binky....so...you may not have died, but did you infect someone else who did? Will you? Will you get sick and have medical bills? Will you prancing around maskless do that for someone else? Did you get or give it to someone who didn't die, but has long term disability or a MILLION BUCKS in bills? Maybe? The vaccine does not prevent you from getting infected and is NOT 100% on you then not being a fountain of covid upon others. Here's just one story of someone who died, and then the family got socked with $1M in bills. Is that not worth the 0.0000001% risk of a side effect worst of a clot with only one of the 3 shots...or the paltry aches and pains that are a far cry better than the 2% or so chance of death to someone who gets it? A risk analysis says if you refuse, you're pretty much an idiot unless you have a valid medical reason not to get it. Religion is not an excuse either...no god has shown it has protected anyone. Proving the negative on that is also invalid. So, binko....read this...maybe you'll catch the $Million dollars in bills? Maybe not.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/21/upshot/covid-bills-financial-long-haulers.html?utm_source=pocket-newtab

buckster

You probably should refrain from speaking for other's Gods. Our Faith protects me and my family daily.

sevenstones1000

Is that Zeus or Odin, buckster?

Greg F

Buckster....which one? Rah? Odin? Mephistopheles? Which of the literally over 7 million active gods picks you to watch? Which of the 11 million or so discarded gods are any more real than yours? Whatever your god, it did a really poor job of protecting anyone who begged it for help....kids with cancer...hmm....planes full of folks and buildings that collapsed. Yep...asleep at the watch, if it exists at all. Could just be odds since averages are over 70 years of life for US citizens...odds are with you there...not a unicorn.

Greg F

The odds of a catastrophe is far greater being unvaccinated than vaccinated...and there is no doubt of that by a very wide margin.

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