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Archive for May 11, 2023

May 11, 2023 — The end of a long worldwide nightmare?

This week has seen the World Health Organization call an end to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. And with it, the U.S. government is planning for the federal public health emergency to expire at the end of the day today.

It’s appropriate, in an odd way, that the end of the declaration occurs one day before the championship final of the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s Class “A” Tournament.

That’s because, in 2020, one of the participants in tomorrow’s grand final, Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.), was to have played what might have been the game of the year against Delray American Heritage (Fla.) before the world shut down.

Three years later, what have we learned from all of the maskings, the social distancing, the vaccines?

I think the world health agencies have learned a lot, but there are, I think, a lot of lessons that school districts and schools had to learn the hard way. While there seemed to be some panic when a small handful of current college athletes died from the Coronavirus, a lot of the regulations put in place were, frankly, draconian.

On more than one occasion, a single positive COVID test within a sports team resulted in the forfeiture of play for the entire team. This forced the cessation of the entire athletics program at Plymouth Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) in 2020, and it also determined the state championship in New Hampshire in Division III. In the latter situation, a single positive test within the Berlin (N.H.) team meant that the entire team would have to quarantine for 10 days, making the Concord Bishop Brady (N.H.) vs. Canaan Mascoma Valley (N.H.) semifinal the de facto final.

Now, if there was one location which seemingly breezed along within the field hockey and lacrosse universe, it was the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Teams played full schedules and had a full playoff bracket, acting as if nothing had happened.

I also remember seeing footage of the celebration from the Colorado state final in April 2021, where full student sections celebrated their teams’ successes as if nothing had happened. No masks, no social distancing. And this was about the time COVID-19 shots became widely available for limited population (DISCLAIMER: this writer received a first vaccine in March 2021 because of chemotherapy).

Today, as far as I can tell, there isn’t any scholastic competitive event which requires either a participant or a spectator to wear a mask. But that’s no reason to let down our guard as a people. There are billions of people around the world who have not received even a first COVID-19 injection. It’s estimated that the potential for a new COVID pandemic of the unvaccinated could decimate a number of developing countries, including the BRIC consortium (Brazil, Russia, India, China).

All I know is that if I’m going to be in a place with a large crowd, I’ll not only have a mask with me, I’ll also be listening to what my body tells me when it comes to symptoms.

As we all should.