Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Coronavirus hospital tents erected across Montgomery County but "don't be alarmed," health officer says

Hogan delays primary to June 2
as more businesses shutter

While the public is told that there are still only 24 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Montgomery County, coronavirus tent hospitals were suddenly erected Tuesday at hospitals across the county. County Health Officier Travis Gayles tried to get ahead of public concerns on this development, saying "don't be alarmed." He said the tents are simply triage centers so that potential coronavirus patients do not have to enter the hospitals' emergency departments, where they might infect others.

A shortage of test kits remains here and nationwide, and Gayles stressed that these tents were not offering testing services to the public. The tent hospitals were erected yesterday at Holy Cross Hospital's Forest Glen and Germantown campuses, Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Adventist White Oak Medical Center, Adventist Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, and MedStar Montgomery Medical Center in Olney. It's interesting that none of the hospitals mentioned the new tents on their social media feeds yesterday.

Two notable aspects on the latest coronavirus numbers across the state: Montgomery County has by far the highest number of confirmed cases, many times that of any other county; the reason(s) for that other than population size would be worth investigating. Second, for a disease that appears designed to hit the senior population hard, the majority of current cases in Maryland are between the ages of 18 and 64. No cases have been confirmed among residents under the age of 18.

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan postponed the state's primary election to June 2, 2020. It's unclear how it will be any safer or healthier for the public to go out to vote that soon, and many are speculating that Maryland could be forced to institute a vote by mail election. In fact, the special election to fill Elijah Cummings' Congressional seat will now be conducted by mail, so stay tuned for election developments that effect us here in Montgomery County.

More businesses are closing due to the pandemic. Paul Bakery and bluemercury in Bethesda, and all Macy's stores in Montgomery County, were among the latest on a sober St. Patrick's Day. Macy's announced it would reopen at the end of the month (again, highly unlikely, as with schools and businesses - all indications are that we will be in a much worse, not better, situation by then).

Target is reducing hours at all Montgomery County locations and nationwide. The big box store, Whole Foods Market, and Safeway were among those promising to institute times of the day during which only seniors and people with certain health issues may enter the store beginning this week.

The "senior hours" idea had been promoted heavily online in recent days by social media influencers, but it's unclear how effective it would be in preventing the spread of coronavirus, since those same people could carry it into the store anyway. Seniors are in the second-largest age group among current coronavirus cases. In practice, it may simply force the rest of the public to cram into more crowded aisles during increasingly fewer store hours, creating more stress and more spread of the disease. Not to mention shutting out folks from the small restocked amounts of hard-to-get supplies that people are hoarding like toilet paper and disinfecting wipes.

Sometimes people need to think before enacting a knee-jerk policy just because it sounds woke. Here's an idea: Retailers and suppliers actually restocking supplies, and operating on regular hours, instead of trying to add to the panic and hoarding. Imagine people not punching each other over a pack of Charmin because, after the initial supply shock, trucks would start rolling and it would be restocked in sufficient supply. Perhaps the paper companies have found a novel way to make money without selling their products. Heckuva job, Brownie!

Photo courtesy Montgomery County Government


  1. According to CNN,the WHO never offered Coronavirus tests to the US says CDC.

    "The World Health organization didn't offer Covid 19 tests to the United States Centers for Disease control and prevention WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told CNN on Tuesday."

  2. The Purpose of the "Senior Shopping Hours" was to permit this age group, that does have a more vulnerable immune system and may suffer from other conditions, that younger adults don't, to shop without fear of contracting the virus. It was also meant to allow them the privilege of making purchases and not have to stand in long lines, as seen at Costco and other warehouse or big box stores. The stress and impact on the body competing with more able bodied adults can have detrimental impacts on citizens of this age group.This is not about seniors "carrying it into the stores", which is a statement that is very offensive and rude, it's about them contracting the virus. Adding this convenience will in no way impact the remaining shopping hours for the general public. Thinking so is overly dramatic, as are the majority of your assumptions.

    1. It's not offensive and rude at all, but a fact, that senior citizens do not only have an equal chance of carrying coronavirus, but have an above-average chance of it based on the statistics so far.

      So to mislead seniors that somehow they'll be safe shopping with fellow seniors is wrong, as is so much of what the media is reporting these days.

      The "remaining shopping hours" are contracting, which makes no sense as the stores are supposed to be open. Late night hours when turnout is lighter are now gone, and this sudden "senior hours" movement is aiming to eliminate the other light traffic time in the early morning.

      Again, knee jerk thinkers didn't bother to consider that the young whippersnappers being forced to shop in bigger crowds over fewer hours may be caring for elderly family members or immune-system compromised relatives.

      A false sense of security for a feel-good idea that ends up spreading the virus even more is just plain dumb.