The Frederick County economy is stirring to life, lifting some of the gloom that has fallen over our community since the pandemic swept into town in March.

Bars, restaurants, stores and gyms are all resuming operations in limited fashion. New COVID-19 cases are falling and hospitalizations are lower. People are more relaxed and business owners still standing are hopeful they will make it through. Good news all around.

If only we didn’t see such dark clouds on the southern and western horizon, and hear the low rumbling of distant thunder.

Last weekend, County Executive Jan Gardner allowed the county to move to phase two of the recovery plan written by the Hogan administration for the state. That permitted more businesses including bowling alleys, fitness centers and gyms, fraternal and social organizations to begin operating at 50 percent capacity.

All must continue to follow health and safety guidelines from the governor’s office, including requiring wearing masks and continuing social distancing.

The easing was made possible because of the data on the effect of the virus continued to improve, Gardner said. Hospitalizations in the county have dropped 70 percent since May 8, intensive care use has fallen 93 percent, and acute care bed use has dropped 65 percent.

“I still do want to express caution as we move forward,” Gardner said, according to News-Post reporters Steve Bohnel and Erika Riley. “We’ve certainly seen that re-openings have created an increase in cases and hospitalizations in some other states. ... The last thing we want to have happen is for us to take a step backwards.”

The news every day reinforces that caution. The New York Times reported this week that more than 35,000 new coronavirus cases were identified across the United States on Tuesday, the highest single-day total since late April and the third-highest total of any day of the pandemic.

Most of those cases are in southern and western states, where reopening was rushed and now infection rates are soaring. It is a cautionary tale for Maryland: We need to be careful.

Gardner again noted that Gov. Larry Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery has stop signs in case there are spikes in hospitalizations, ICU beds, or other important data points.

She also noted that the county and the state will continue to discourage large gatherings since they are one of the leading risks for spreading the coronavirus. People need to continue to wear face coverings and social distance, she added.

We cannot stress enough the need to keep the rules on mask-wearing. It is the single most important measure ordinary citizens can take to protect themselves and others. Everyone should want to wear a mask, but unfortunately it has become a political issue, so the rules must remain in place.

Hogan and Gardner have wisely stressed the need for widespread testing, to find outbreaks and track possible spread. We are greatly encouraged that our state and county leaders will be careful and smart as our reopening proceeds.

Meanwhile, the county is trying to give a boost to businesses who have been hurt by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic closures.

Frederick County soon will be awarding $5 million in Jump Start grants to small businesses and farmers. A total of 885 applicants will receive funding. Seventy-seven full-time farmers will receive grants of $6,000, 279 small businesses will receive grants of $10,000 and 529 micro businesses will receive grants of $3,300.

It is not a lot of money, but we hope it will be enough to tide over the recipients until better days arrive.

The federal government has devoted more than $2 trillion to help individuals and businesses, but the crisis is not over yet. A new round of aid has been passed by the Democratic House of Representatives, but it is bottled up in the Republican Senate.

While we wait on federal lawmakers to come to their senses on the need and agree on a new bill, we will have to look to our state and local leaders to do what they can. This pandemic is far from over.

(15) comments

Brookhawk

Just keep your fingers crossed too. What is happening in most of the rest of the country is an uptick, and it could spread back here as people start traveling again. We can't get complacent with disease. It just loves complacent people.

DickD

Up to Smithburg this weekend. Some there are not wearing masks. Mostly Trump supporters, Washington County went 80% for Trump.

Greg F

Yep...will never go to that barber there again....wanted patrons to take masks off or leave. Sorry...no thanks. Plenty of other places to get a cut.

FrederickFan

The federal government has been a complete failure on COVID. Fortunately we have good local leadership with Gardner at the helm.

mgoose806

Gardner is a Democratic political hack. She says and does what is politically expedient

public-redux

Which of Gardner’s recent actions were politically expedient? and how were they expedient?

Greg F

Another right wing nutjob with no substance and all Fox Noise headlines as comments. Why don't you direct your comment to the one person who is primarily responsible for being the beacon of idiocy in not wearing masks in this nation and not doing what is best for everyone in distancing and other measures...your Agent Orange in the Oval Office. There's your hack. Ignoring the virus, taking apart the pandemic team, denying there was a 69 page plan and then tearing it up once he couldn't deny it any longer. Not once wearing a mask, not once distancing, not once actually doing anything the professionals and scientists said to do. There is a guy that will go down in history as one of the dirtiest people on the planet when this is all wrapped up. Seems you love that sort of dirt...go breathe it in...deeply.

DickD

My opinion is she is great. I want her to run for Governor in 2022.

Dwasserba

"Hogan and Gardner have wisely stressed the need for widespread testing, to find outbreaks and track possible spread." Trump is cutting off Covid funding on June 30. Get your doctor and dentist appointments done NOW while people can be tested that you come in contact with indoors.

jsklinelga

"While we wait on federal lawmakers to come to their senses on the need and agree on a new bill, we will have to look to our state and local leaders to do what they can. This pandemic is far from over."

Interesting perspective. One thing history has proven, without doubt, at some point the bill will come due.

bosco

Maybe Trump can get China to pay for it like Mexico is paying for the border wall. (sarcasm alert)[lol][ninja]

public-redux

Sure hope so. Meanwhile some American soldiers continue to live in substandard housing while Trump diverts military construction funds to his wall.

DickD

Might be able to get some of those Mexicans to build military housing. Trump got the Polish to work for him and didn't pay them.

DickD

China WILL pay, right after Mexico pays for the wall.

Greg F

Trump won't even pay his small businesses he's hired. Good luck ever getting that crook to do anything kosher. He's a as bad as Al Capone....just without the tommygun.

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