While news of a pair of successful vaccine trials show there is a light at the end of the tunnel, the sad fact is we are still very much in the dark.
We are in the middle of a surge in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Positivity rates are climbing. Schools are closing again in many areas, or postponing planned reopenings. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is ordering more restrictions, on hospitals, on nursing homes, on businesses.
“This new surge of COVID-19 is going to continue placing enormous strain on both our health care systems and our economy,” Hogan said at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
The governor’s grim reminder that COVID-19 numbers are climbing offsets the excitement we should be feeling over the positive results from a pair of vaccines — one from Moderna, the other from Pfizer and BioNTech.
And the news from Hogan, the additional restrictions, come as the holidays near and people continue to make plans to travel for big family get-togethers despite the public health implications.
Health officers from counties across the state are encouraging people to remain local this Thanksgiving week, including here in Southern Maryland. We understand it is hard and seems unfair. We want to see our families, too. Certainly when all this started, most of us thought we would still be able to have a normal summer, if not at least a normal fall and winter holiday season.
At his news conference, Hogan reiterated the importance — and the state mandates — of masks in maintaining the public health. He said it is not political, it is not “Big Brother.” And it isn’t. It is the best practical advice by the nation’s leading infectious disease experts. Wear a mask.
Yet in the Facebook window of Hogan’s news conference, comments like this floated by, “A shotgun will keep me and my family safe. Not you limiting me or my family to make money to survive.” and this, “I’m truly shocked at the amount of people that are OK with government officials shutting down their entire lives [and] taking away all of the freedoms this country is known for” and this, “Nope ... live your life people don’t listen to these fools.”
We recognize the concerns about the economy and jobs and paying bills. We understand the frustrations with mandates interrupting our daily lives and our livelihoods. The isolation we faced during lockdown — the toll on our mental health — is something we do not want to experience again, especially as we continue to social distance. We want to get back to that feeling of being part of a bigger community, through events, through school, through church, through seeing friends in a restaurant.
All of us have been affected by this pandemic. We have lost family members and friends. We have faced challenges with work and paying bills. We have struggled through lockdowns. We are just so tired of all of it. And it’s the holidays, which can exacerbate those feelings of discontent.
But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so let’s not stop being cautious and courteous to others. The vaccines currently being tested show real potential in beating this virus, but for now we need to stay the course and be diligent with our masks and social distancing efforts. That’s for our own health as well as the health of those around us.