The number of COVID-19 cases in Talbot County, the state of Maryland and the U.S. is increasing, according to recent news reports. It’s disturbing, though unsurprising.
As of Saturday, July 11,2020, new cases in the country had reached a record daily count of 68,000, according to the New York Times, for a total of 3,353,000 as of July 13. The number of new cases in Florida totaled 15,299, breaking the national record for a state’s largest single-day record in positive coronavirus cases, per The Baltimore Sun.
According to the World Health Organization, as of Friday, July 10, the number of cases worldwide had surpassed for the fifth time in July the previous record of 220,000 cases a day.
According to the Talbot Spy on July 13, total cases in Talbot County numbered 191, an increase of 11 from the previous day. Cases in Maryland totaled 73,527, an increase of 418 in 24 hours, as reported in the July 13 Spy, including six in the past 24 hours.
These statistics reflect more testing, lax restrictions in some states, stubborn refusal by many to wear masks and simply fatigue by Americans to a gross change in lifestyle. Probably a combination of these factors, I suppose.
Like many, I feel a bit discouraged. Common sense—and self-preservation—demanded all of us months ago to respond urgently to a health crisis, the likes of which we had never experienced. This was in early March. And for the most part, we reacted by uniting to fight a potentially fatal disease.
From early March to early June—a brief three months–our country witnessed a surge in selflessness as the novel coronavirus consumed public attention.
We faced an enemy virus and fought it with a fierce determination to “flatten the curve” by wearing masks, sheltering in place and socially distancing ourselves from family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Our little space in our revolving world seemingly had come to a screeching stop.
Now. the game has returned to familiar territory: fear and self-monitoring are hovering again over our lives. At least to mine. I’m back to my old caution and concern, though “old” is relative.
What’s surprising is that I don’t mind. This incurable extrovert somehow enjoyed the quiet, punctuated at times by efficient Zoom meetings requiring a more informal dress code (not pajamas, however) and no travel. Takeout meals became joyful experiences, providing a welcome break for my wife in the sometime tedious routine of dinner preparation.
Like others, I savored the slight re-opening of life in June as directed by Gov. Larry Hogan, with restrictions of course and cautious actions taken by sensible business-owners. I sensed a heightened sense of relief among my fellow citizens, while many remained leery of diving back in. I didn’t judge or blame them.
We in our 70s with “underlying medical conditions” justifiably approached a partial return to normal with some trepidation. We would have been foolish to do otherwise. Still, we yearned for human interaction, even if properly distant.
At a time when we must continue to police ourselves and care about others, it’s been trying to observe outright stupidity on the part of those deliberately flouting behaviors harmful to them and others. Dismissive lack of mask-wearing by some begets an angry response by those playing by science-approved rules and guidance.
When we celebrated our independence on July 4th, I suppose we also were granting people the right to act foolishly and irresponsibly. Unfortunately, in current times, this behavior can expose others to the novel coronavirus.
It’s downright selfish.
Narcissism, though totally legal, can have health consequences for those who would prefer to avoid hospitalization and possible death. Freedom has consequences.
Objective experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and county health officers like Dr. Frieda Watley, have predicted a surge. And that’s what seems to be happening. Neither medical expert wanted to be right.
Sadly, they can’t prescribe common sense.
I must confess I have returned to working out at a private gym with a personal trainer. Stupid and I’ll-advised? It’s very possible. I weighed the risk and rewards. At nearly 75, a heart attack victim 27 years ago, a prostate cancer survivor and a person afflicted in 2018 and part of 2019 with balance problems, I have reasoned that wisely controlled training twice a week in a mostly unpopulated gym hopefully lengthens my life.
Our lives are in flux. A second COVID-19 surge has materialized. Several states opened up for business prematurely, ignoring medical advice. Maryland, led by Gov. Hogan, reacted early on with inconvenient but sensible restrictions. Hospitalizations decreased. The state then reopened in phases. Cases have risen. The picture is dark.
Our new normal is becoming customary. That’s a tough prognosis.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.