“We reached the peak of the pandemic here in Maryland 96 days ago on April 17,” says the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, in a press conference on July 22, 2020. “49 days ago we moved into stage 2 of our safe, effective, and gradual reopening of our Maryland Roadmap to Recovery plan.”

Since reopening on June 12, 2020, according to the Maryland Health Department, “[h]ospitalizations have dropped below 1,000, and to their lowest point in 61 days… [t]he state’s positivity rate has declined to 7.2 percent, and the positivity rate has dropped to single digits in 23 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions.” Although the COVID-19 rates in Maryland are gradually declining, how well are the people of Maryland actually handling this global pandemic?

Since March 18, I have been quarantining in Easton, Maryland. At first, the people of Easton were handling the situation well. Civilians would wear masks everywhere they went. People would host small gatherings only outside. Most would socially distance. Once Maryland moved into stage 2, which included reopening gyms, restaurants, malls, etc., that is when most people in Talbot County began to disregard safety protocols.

The 4th of July was the worst time for Talbot County. People were coming in from the city just to celebrate. Social distancing did not exist anymore. COVID-19 did not exist anymore. It was almost as if the panic of this pandemic suddenly disappeared. But although the fear and panic declined, the cases suddenly went up. 

On July 11, I decided to go back to my hometown in Bethesda, Maryland. Bethesda was the epicenter of COVID-19. My county, Montgomery County, is one of the most affected places in Maryland. It has the most cases out of every county in Maryland along with Prince George’s County. Although Bethesda had the most cases, they surprisingly handled it well.

Almost every person wore a mask wherever they went. Every restaurant did their best to make sure they had enough room outside. They even closed off a street in Bethesda for the sole purpose of giving restaurants bigger outdoor seating. Most people were socially distancing and every party was mostly outside. 

Although both counties consist of the same rules and regulations concerning COVID-19, they each handled it differently. But why?

While in Easton, I used to ask my friends, “what are your thoughts on COVID-19?” and they would respond with, “COVID-19 does not exist.”

I asked the same question to one of my friends in Bethesda and he responded with, “it was the best thing to happen to us.” I asked him to elaborate and he said, “because it is finally waking us up from our ignorance.”

My friend in Bethesda has a completely contradictory opinion to my friends in Easton. My friends in Easton seem to represent the ignorance that my friend in Bethesda is referring to. 

“As we have stated repeatedly over the past few weeks, we’re concerned that the positivity rate among Marylanders under 35 is higher than the positivity rate for Marylanders 35 and older,” says Governor Larry Hogan. “Positivity rate for Marylanders under 35 also peaked quite a while ago, on May 5, at 24.4%, and it has also dropped significantly by 73%, but not as fast [as Marylanders over the age of 35].” Why are young adolescents in Maryland contracting COVID-19 faster than older adults? Is it because of their ignorance?

So who exactly is handling COVID-19 better? The truth to that question is no one. Maryland cases are rapidly increasing and people are beginning to disregard that. Every Marylander could do a better job at social distancing. This global pandemic will not end if we let our ignorance consume us.