February 26, 2024
Annapolis, US 46 F

OPINION: Data shows Anne Arundel County should reopen

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman says we need to move more slowly than the rest of Maryland in reopening. Does the data support this? There are 139 Anne Arundel COVID-19 deaths as of May 20.

Let’s look at those 139 Anne Arundel County deaths.

  • Not one person under age 40 has died.
  • 3 people between ages 40-49 have died. (2%)
  • 6 people between ages 50-59 have died. (4%)
  • 13 people between ages 60-69 have died. (9%)
  • 117 people over 70 have died (85%)

In all of Anne Arundel County, population 579,234, no more than 22 people under the age of 70 have died of COVID-19.

It’s mind boggling that AA County Executive Steuart Pittman wants to keep Anne Arundel County shut down. If anything, the numbers show we should be opening more quickly. Elderly or at risk people should stay at home; but there is no reason the rest of us can’t go back to work—or to church or a restaurant, for that matter. Pittman’s Executive Order needs to be modified accordingly. If anything, Governor Larry Hogan is going too slow.

What about hospitalizations and capacity for COVID-19 patients? Hospitalizations have never been high, and they’ve been declining since April 21. We’ve never been anywhere near our hospital capacity; state hospital capacity is 9,400 beds, and we’ve never used more than 1700 for COVID-19 patients. Anne Arundel County hospitalizations peaked at 172 on April 21. It’s currently 99, and has been declining. The curve has been crushed. (Remember how that was the original point of these business closures and stay at home orders?) Both hospital representatives on Pittman’s Recovery Work Group have stated they have adequate capacity in AA County for COVID-19 patients. So much so that they’ve laid off 1000 people and cut pay for employees because, without patients for non-COVID-19 cases, their beds have had little use at all.

What about total cases? Well, if total COVID-19 cases are increasing, and hospitalizations are declining, it means that most healthy people are able to handle this disease themselves at home-which is a good thing. We do that with the flu and other illnesses too. I think most of us recognize that being ill is an inconvenience, but part of life. Being hospitalized is obviously more significant.

Our initial reaction to a disease we knew little about was understandable; but we know what age groups this disease predominantly targets now, and we should reassess accordingly.

Instead, politicians are doubling down on what, in hindsight, was an over-reaction. They prefer to claim they’ve saved lives, a statement that is unprovable and certainly not supported by the data, rather than admit they’ve gone too far, make corrections, and reopen. Most of the media are following this narrative as well. Maryland’s death rate is 34 people per 100,000 population. Sweden never shut down their businesses or issued stay at home orders, and has a death rate of 36.8 people per 100,000.

Nearly 500,000 people out of Maryland’s 2.8 million workers have filed for unemployment since March. We’ve saved few lives with business closures, but ruined many.

Those are the numbers. Here’s one more. If you’re under the age of 70, you have a .00379812 chance out of 100 of dying from COVID-19 in Anne Arundel County. It’s time for us to get back to life, and go back to work.

–Herb McMillan, Annapolis, MD

Herb McMillan represented Annapolis in the House of Delegates for 3 terms. He may be reached at [email protected]

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