I want to take this opportunity to wish a happy Passover and a happy Easter to those of you who observe the holidays. I hope that these days of faith, renewal, and community will be a source of light for you and your families during this challenging time.
The health crisis facing our entire nation will, sadly, require many of us to modify our holiday traditions. For example, in order to comply with social distancing guidelines, my wife and I joined a virtual Passover Seder instead of gathering together with our friends and family members in person. I appreciate that these sorts of adjustments will be frustrating, and I empathize with all those who are unable to be with their loved ones on these special occasions. However, it is critically important that we continue to follow the advice of our public health experts to make our country whole again.
In Maryland, although we have made significant strides to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have not yet seen the peak of this pandemic. The rapid spread of the virus is already putting an enormous strain on our healthcare system. Doctors and nurses are working around the clock to treat patients within sufficient personal protective equipment and medical supplies.
The best thing that you can do to protect yourself and your community is to stay at home. This will help “flatten the curve,” or slow the transmission of COIVID-19 , in order to prevent our health system’s capacity from becoming overwhelmed. On March 30th, Governor Hogan issued a Stay at Home order, which prohibits Marylanders from leaving our houses except for essential reasons. If you do need to go out for essential work or groceries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wear a cloth face mask (not a surgical mask or N-95 respirator mask), since the virus can be spread through contact with people who aren’t showing any symptoms. Also, be sure to always maintain six feet between yourself and other individuals in public settings. Most importantly, please do not participate in social gatherings that would bring large numbers of people close together, including any celebrations of the upcoming holidays.
These measures are disruptive and upsetting, but they are critical if we want to minimize the number of fatalities, hospitalizations, and instances of serious illness caused by this pandemic. The decisions we all make today will have consequences not only for our individual families, but also for everyone in our communities, including those who are most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The good news is that none of us is making such sacrifices alone, and this hardship is temporary.
The story of Passover teaches us that even after long periods of suffering and adversity, there is a brighter future ahead when we stay focused, united, and hopeful. As I continue to celebrate the holiday with my family, I will think about how grateful I am for the strength and generosity of Marylanders, and I will look forward to the brighter days we have in store.
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