Maryland should go back to Phase 1

Aug. 24, 2020, 8:19 p.m. | By Katalina Li | 1 year, 11 months ago

With rising case numbers in the state and around the nation, the state needs to guarantee public safety and start reversing reopening efforts

Photo: Between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of reopening, the main differences are outdoor and indoor guidelines (courtesy of Creative Commons)

Since Maryland entered Phase 2 of reopening on June 15, the number of daily new COVID-19 cases has been rising steadily. At the moment, Maryland’s reopening efforts are on pause in an attempt to control the damage - however, in order to see more effective decreases in case numbers, the state must fully reverse reopening efforts and go back to Phase 1. 

According to the New York Times, Maryland hit its peak number of new daily cases on May 19, with 1,782 new cases on that day alone. After that, the numbers decreased over the course of about a month, dropping to 299 new cases on June 22, one week after Maryland entered Phase 2. Following Fourth of July celebrations, Maryland’s daily new case numbers began rising again on July 6 (540 new cases). Since then, the numbers have been climbing, and are once again approaching that peak number from May 19. On July 31, Maryland hit 1,167 new cases, and is still on the climb. 

There are currently four categories for reopening in the wake of recent global spikes in case numbers: reopened, reopening, pausing and reversing. The majority of states in the South are either pausing or reversing their reopening efforts, while most states in the North remain reopened or continue reopening. 

At the moment, Maryland is in the pausing state. On July 26, Governor Larry Hogan announced in a news conference that in the wake of rapidly increasing Maryland case numbers, reopening efforts will be paused until it is safe to continue to Phase 3. “We do find ourselves at a fork in the road, a critical turning point where we could either continue making progress and continue heading in the right direction or we could ignore the warnings and spike back up like much of the rest of the country,” Hogan said. 

Pausing reopening efforts is a step in the right direction to putting Maryland back on the decline for case numbers. However, if the state is to “continue heading in the right direction” in hopes of making progress, Maryland needs to completely start reversing its reopening efforts and go back to Phase 1. 

Other states are approaching recent case number spikes in different ways. For states that are fully reversing their reopening efforts (not just pausing), most have seen a decrease in new case numbers. Even for Florida, which had record-breaking case numbers throughout July, the number of daily new cases has decreased in the past week thanks to the reversal of reopening efforts. Other states, like Arizona and Texas, are also in the reversal process and have seen decreases in new case numbers too. 

On the other hand, states that are reopened and continuing to reopen are the states that are still facing increases in case numbers. Some states like Tennessee and Wyoming didn’t experience an initial spike in cases back during the first wave of COVID-19 thanks to preventative measures. Yet these states are all reopened or reopening at the moment, and are all seeing recent spikes in case numbers.

If Maryland officials want state COVID-19 numbers to go down, they will have to go into reversal as Southern states did. Pausing is not enough, especially since the states bordering Maryland are all experiencing growing case numbers or are trying to deal with the aftermath of these spikes. These states are also remaining reopen or continue to reopen. Reversing Maryland’s reopening efforts and minimizing travel in and out of Maryland would prevent more spreading from states around Maryland. 

Between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of reopening, the main differences are outdoor and indoor guidelines. During Phase 1, most activities were required to be outdoor, and gatherings were limited to 10 or fewer participants. With Phase 2, there are less restrictions and more indoor activities are available.

While going back to Phase 1 may restrict people from doing as many activities that they would want to, going back is imperative for public health. If Maryland keeps pushing forward instead, there may be more long-term consequences that will stop the state from making progress in the future. 

Let's compare COVID-19 reopening to personal health treatment. When it comes to personal health, doctors rarely allow a patient to move on to the next recovery phase unless the patient is ready and has completely finished healing in the previous phase. In each stage of recovery, the patient must follow strict guidelines. For doctors, if a patient is struggling too much in a certain phase of recovery or not following these guidelines, the patient is moved back to a previous recovery phase until they are completely able to move forward again. 

Similarly, Maryland needs to reverse reopening efforts until its case numbers are on the decline again and there is little to no chance of them going back up in another wave. Doing so is likely the only way to guarantee the least amount of damage from COVID-19 in the long run. 

Without getting case numbers down for sure, the state can’t keep moving forward. Since Maryland’s numbers are still increasing, Hogan needs to step back to Phase 1 and get numbers back in check. At the end of the day, it’s better to prioritize public safety instead of continuing to push forward in the face of danger.

Last updated: Aug. 24, 2020, 8:19 p.m.

Tags: reopen Maryland Larry Hogan coronavirus COVID-19

Katalina Li. Hi there! I'm Katie (she/her) and I'm a junior. When I'm not writing articles, I'm usually binge-watching Gordon Ramsay shows, drawing Studio Ghibli characters, or making piano covers for my YouTube channel :) More »

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