Almost everyone is getting very tired of the battle to control the coronavirus pandemic, but now is not the time to start letting our guard down.
In March, President Trump described this as a kind of war, and we cannot just decide to stop fighting just because we are getting tired. As the months of social distancing, wearing masks and taking other precautions drag on, the toll on our collective psyche seems to be growing and our resolve is weakening. But we cannot let that happen.
The COVID-19 monster which seemed to be quieting down a few weeks ago is now rearing its ugly head once again. The nation recently exceeded 50,000 new cases a day, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the widely respected scientist from the National Institutes of Health, warned that it could pass 100,000 new cases a day unless current trends are reversed.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the infection curve is rising in 40 out of 50 states, after several weeks of decline. The reversal has largely spared only us in the Northeast.
The U.S. recorded 50,700 new cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. The AP said that represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher even than what the country witnessed during the deadliest phase of the crisis in April and May.
For now, Maryland seems to be avoiding the surge of new cases, with the measures put in place to control the spread of the virus working. But with the July Fourth holiday weekend upon us, leaders are worried that the increase in infections will start rising again, here and everywhere.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told the Baltimore Sun that the virus remains a threat, particularly directing his message toward young people who he said seem to believe they are “bulletproof.” Maryland reported 505 new cases Thursday and nearly half were in those ages 20-39, according to state data.
Hogan has been gradually easing the restrictions he ordered in March to try to control the virus, while allowing local officials to phase in reopening measures. He does not want to start anew with lockdowns and closures.
The trend line of new cases has declined significantly from May and April, but it stayed stubbornly level in the later days of June.
With alarm bells ringing across the county, Hogan and local officials like County Executive Jan Gardner are wise to take their time in lifting restrictions. We just cannot let the monster loose to ravage the population if we can avoid it.
By now, we all know that wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distance and washing our hands frequently and effectively are the simplest measures to prevent the spread of the disease. And yet large numbers of people simply refuse.
They may reject the science which says that masks work, or they may be making a political statement on their freedom to do as they please. But they are wrong, and they are endangering others. If you wear a mask, you protect yourself to some extent, but more importantly you protect others. The mask is very effective at keeping you from spreading the disease to others.
Refusing to wear a mask has been compared by many to refusing to wear a seat belt in a car, another “freedom” restricted by state law. We actually think it is more analogous to driving drunk. State law prohibits drunk driving because you might injure yourself, but even worse, you might cause a crash and hurt others. So it is with a mask and the virus.
Don’t give up and don’t get worn down, people. We have a long road ahead of us until the day when a vaccine will, we hope, end this pandemic. But until that day comes, we must all do our part to limit the spread.