One year, three months and 10 days.
That’s how long we’ve been under a state of emergency, a step Gov. Larry Hogan took back in March 2020 once the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Maryland.
Since then, 9,472 lives around the state have been lost to the virus — including 331 in Frederick County. The number of confirmed cases has reached 461,392, with 19,814 right here in the county.
Thousands of Marylanders have become unemployed because of the pandemic. Many more faced other challenges, creating hardships that will take years before they see a full recovery.
These are more than numbers. We’re talking about real people — our family, friends and neighbors.
But now, as Hogan put it Tuesday, “We have finally reached the light at the end of that long tunnel.”
And with that, Hogan announced Tuesday that after one year, three months and 10 days, the state of emergency will officially end along with the mask mandate and other restrictions that come with it.
This doesn’t mean the pandemic is over. The governor made that very clear in his remarks.
And, for those who refuse to get vaccinated, the end is not near.
“If you have been vaccinated, you are safe, but those who have not gotten vaccinated will continue to be at risk,” Hogan said.
As Hogan put it: “There’s no excuse.”
Still, there are some milestones worth celebrating. We figured out ways to build mass testing and vaccination sites in matters of days and weeks. The state opened shuttered hospitals, increased the number of beds to treat the sick and implemented changes that are miraculous to note given the speed of the pandemic.
Tens of millions of pieces of personal protective equipment were procured by the state quicker than ever could have been expected. The state went from testing only about 50 people per day to thousands at the pandemic’s peak.
To date, more than 6.5 million COVID-19 vaccinations have been administered in Maryland — meaning more than 72 percent of adults across the state have been vaccinated.
Health metrics, which have been used to measure the severity of COVID in Maryland throughout the pandemic, continue to drop. The seven-day rolling positivity rate is at 0.82 percent, which according to Hogan, is lower than 43 other states.
The number of hospitalizations, which at times approached 2,000 across the state, is now below 200 — including just seven here in Frederick County. As we noted earlier this week, the number of people being treated for COVID-19 in Frederick Health’s intensive care unit hit zero for the first time since November.
We cannot forget the health care workers, first responders and other front-line workers who have sacrificed to keep us safe and ensure our lives carry on with few interruptions.
It’s not that there weren’t significant problems along the way, because there were.
We were forced into our homes for work, school and just about everything else. Restaurants and other businesses were shuttered for weeks and months. Delivery of unemployment checks was delayed for the most vulnerable. There were shortages at the grocery store.
We were isolated, apart from friends and loved ones — for some of us, from everyone — for long periods of time. The pandemic had an impact on our mental health as many of us coped with fear, worry and concern.
It may be years before we fully understand the impact this pandemic had on us.
And while much of this is behind us, we can’t move on and forget all we’ve been through. For one, we can’t let down our guard. The virus and its variants are still around, meaning we might see another spike. More lives will be lost, though we hope and suspect the worst is over.
As Hogan said, “it’s not mission accomplished,” and “the battle’s not over.”
Together, we’ve been through one year, three months and 10 days, and that’s a number we shouldn’t forget, even as we move forward to what we hope will be better days.