Over the last couple of days, we have seen a new series of businesses closing around the state. Most notably for the people of Brunswick is a long-standing restaurant on Maine Street that will not reopen its doors. Other businesses are having to look on the bright side to say that at least they did not lose as much money as they feared this year. Our children have fared even worse.

And for what?

This week we have been told what a perilous time we are in. We are told that the pandemic is entering a critical phase. We have been told that several schools in Maine are going to remote learning because maybe someone might have been exposed to COVID. We have been told that now winter sports are in jeopardy and that 2021 may look much like the latter half of 2020. And the hits just keep on coming.

Is the pandemic panic necessary? What do the State’s numbers say?

According to the State’s own CDC and their Division of Disease Surveillance, Maine has some really low numbers, but you would never know it listening to the Maine CDC. According to those surveillance staff, Maine has had 6,380 confirmed and probable cases of COVID. Out of those cases a vast majority of cases have recovered and gone back to their lives. Unfortunately, 146 Mainer’s have lost their lives to the disease. 146 out of 1,300,000 residents in the state.

When you dive into the information on the state’s website you start to see just how off base the panic really is. Remember back when the state was shut down and we were told to stay home unless absolutely necessary, when only essential workers were supposed to leave the exile of their own houses? Back in the day when the line at Walmart snaked around the building? Mainer’s were told that we were doing this for a couple of weeks to “flatten the curve.”  We were told we were alleviating the stress that was placed on Maine’s health care system.

According to those numbers from the CDC, hospital capacity and the availability of respirators has remained high over the last seven months. There has not been a great drain on resources. Additionally, the numbers of daily emergency room visits with COVID or flu symptoms have gone down as have the number of new hospitalizations per day. It would appear that we have flattened that curve.

When you look at the impact that the pandemic has had on various parts of our population the numbers also tell a different tale. There are people, you probably know a few, that are scared to leave their houses. They are scared to come into contact with other people, because of what they have been told about the virus and how dire it is.

In Maine over 40% of all of the cases of COVID involved people over the age of 50. It is also true that this particular demographic has experienced a higher rate of deaths associated with having COVID. About 97% of all deaths have come from within this age bracket.

Conversely, for those Mainer’s 40 and under, there have been two deaths from having COVID in that demo. No one under 20 has died to date.

Think about that for a moment. No one under the age of 20 has died and yet we have figuratively imprisoned our children in our homes to make them safe. We have largely taken away social outlets for them and replaced them with screens. The same screens that we have been told for a generation were a real problem for youngsters.

We have taken away sporting events for many of our youth. We have taken away creative outlets that allowed personal expression and growth. We have given a largely ineffective remote learning program to our most impressionable residents all in the name of flattening a curve that is already pretty flat.

We will continue to be told that we must put everything on hold for a while, that it will not last forever. We will again be told that it is necessary to “flatten the curve”. The harm we are doing to our school-aged children by not giving them a sense of normalcy and the harm being done to our entrepreneurs, our job creators, will take years to overcome.

COVID will continue to exist, as most illnesses do for a period of time. COVID, like other illnesses, will change. While that happens, Mainers should be given the chance to once again live their lives the way they want to. If you want to stay home have that option. If you want to imprison yourself on your own property, go right ahead. If you want to live like it is October of 2019 be able to do so.

It is time to realize that while the virus exists, Mainers can make decisions for themselves.

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]

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