A DIFFERENT world

Day 52. Yesterday the Governor of Maryland announced the first small step in the process of lifting the stay at home order which has been in place for the last seven weeks. State parks and beaches will be reopened for activities conducted with social distancing, mask etc. In making this announcement the Governor pointed to the following:

“Over the past seven days we have seen a good trend in hospitalizations with five-straight days downward and then a little bump up yesterday, but overall, we are down slightly from where we were a week ago,” Hogan said. “Even more encouraging is that our ICU numbers have been basically flat, level at a plateau for eight-straight days. If these trends continue into next week, we will be ready to lift the stay-at-home order and to begin stage one of our recovery plan. … That would mean the reopening of certain types of businesses and lower-risk community, religious and quality-of-life activities.”

Careful study of his explanation reveals that there was one single purpose for the stay at home orders and that was to reduce the risk of an overwhelmed health care system. The orders were issued to reduce that risk and only that risk. The means to accomplish that mitigation was to lower the number of persons who became infected thereby lowering the number of hospital admissions and critically ill patients. Now that this goal appears to have been accomplished the stay at home orders are slowly being lifted.

Thus, we should now clearly understand that we have been staying at home to accomplish a public not personal goal. The objective was to flatten the overall curve so that health care facilities and resources would be able to care for the thousands who contracted Covid-19. Reducing the number of infected individuals was simply the means to accomplishing that goal. The goal was not to keep you and me safe and healthy until the virus sufficiently ran its course so that we could resume our lives in safe environment.

What does this mean for you and me? It means that we are not returning to the world we left. We are entering a very different world. A world in which there is a vicious highly infectious disease which will continue to infect and kill thousands. A world in which it will be up to each one of us to chart our own individual path through that new world. We will be left to making our own personal risk evaluation and mitigation plans and decisions.

We are not “returning” anywhere. We are entering a fundamentally changed, less safe, and different world. How we each navigate through it is now up to us. No longer can we rely on the simple but costly protection of staying at home.

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