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COVID-19 before, after

The COVID-19 pandemic seems destined to become one of those watershed periods in history that garner “before” and “after” status.

Just as B.C. and A.D. date history, and how folks have long used designations like “before the war” and “after the Great Depression” to mark their lives, we will likely do the same with this virus.

B-CV was when the world was social, our economy was strong and no one thought twice about jumping on a plane to Maui. We shook hands and hugged, sat with crowds at restaurants, games and concerts. Everyday folks may not have been getting rich, but work was plentiful and bills got paid.

It’s too early to say what life will be like in A-CV, but there are sure to be changes. Some will be temporary and some may last forever. Wearing face masks in public was once an anomaly in the U.S. Now, it’s common, even mandatory in many settings. It is interesting how quickly we have learned to gauge and try to maintain a social distance of 6 feet.

Far more important than the before and after of COVID-19 is the present. That’s what our great-grandkids will ask us some day: “What did you do during the Great Pandemic of 2020?”

Will we be able to say we did our part? Just like in war, there will be heroes to celebrate and thank, including some who made the ultimate sacrifice. Every day on this island people put their health and safety on the line just to do their jobs. From nurses, doctors and first responders to the grocery store personnel who keep the food supply chain running. Our essential workers are certainly doing their part. We can’t thank them enough.

“I stayed home and watched TV” may not sound heroic, but it, too, is an important contribution. Only through social distancing and maintaining best practices like washing hands for 20 seconds and not touching our faces in public can we hope to continue flattening the curve.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Hawaii is projected to hit its peak of COVID-19-related hospitalizations on Monday and deaths per day on Tuesday. Assuming full social distancing through May, the institute projects that by May 23 Hawaii will have zero coronavirus hospitalized patients and no daily deaths.

Those dates are not far away. While they do not mean we can all go out and slow dance in the streets come late May — only an effective vaccine can put this fight completely behind us — we will be one important step closer to the era that will become known as “After COVID-19.”

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