Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – April 9, 2021

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – April 9, 2021

For months, I tracked Maryland’s coronavirus website daily for data on the positivity rate. I only check it once a week now and pay more attention to the vaccination numbers. Here’s a look at some key points after a review of both metrics this week.

•Test Data: After about a month of positivity percentage numbers falling below 5%, Worcester County saw a modest jump starting March 28 when the county’s daily positivity percentage hit 5.5%. It continued up until March 31, reaching 8.26% and 8.77% on April 4 before dropping most of this week. As of Wednesday, April 7, the rate was at 6.38% (state average 5.56%). There is no concrete reason for the jump experienced last week, but it’s important to keep these numbers in perspective. For instance, one year ago, Worcester County positivity rate was on the climb, reaching 14.17% on April 10, 2020. The numbers will likely continue to fluctuate, but we are heading in the right direction, according to the medical community.

•Vaccine Data: Updated information released this week shows 24% of Worcester County residents are now fully vaccinated compared to 18% in Wicomico and 14% in Somerset County. As far as the state, fully vaccinated numbers are unavailable, but 44% of the adult population has received at least one shot with 78% of individuals 65 years of age and older getting at least one shot. Though no data to support this opinion, I noticed this week a tremendous uptick locally in the single shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine availability. The local Rite Aid pharmacies had a solid supply this week with representatives even asking customers if they were interested in getting vaccinated while shopping. Additionally, there was a Johnson & Johnson vaccine clinic held this week in Berlin at Henry Park for individuals with underlying medical conditions. The supply appears to be heading in the right direction on all fronts.

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It’s always interesting to learn of successes as a result of the pandemic. One such example would have to be this upcoming season at the Freeman Arts Pavilion in Selbyville, Del. With large venues still restricted from hosting major concerts due to capacity restrictions and some simply choosing to not operate this summer due to profitability concerns, it seems the smaller venues, especially those outside, are prospering.

The Freeman Arts Pavilion announced its impressive lineup this year after not being able to host any major performers last year. This year’s bookings resemble a “normal” pre-pandemic lineup, and congratulations are in order for all those responsible for attracting 15-plus national acts, including Indigo Girls, Jake Owen, Clint Black, Grace Potter, Fitz & The Tantrums, Amos Lee, REO Speedwagon, Straight No Chaser, Train, Sonia De Los Santos, Tartan Terrors, The Commodores and others. The pavilion will feature roughly 550 seating pods for guests.

Another example of a success story borne out of COVID-19 would be the popular graduation processions on the Boardwalk last spring. The events were derived out of a desperate hope from school system officials to salvage some graduation memories for the Class of 2020. The result was a wonderful experience, as the students and their families relished the casual event and were celebrated in grand style along the boards. It was announced this week Stephen Decatur High School will be holding another graduation procession on the Boardwalk as part of its graduation planning in late May. Other events include senior awards night, Baccalaureate and graduation in the football stadium on school grounds.

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A major concern has surfaced at the Ocean City Municipal Airport over President Biden’s travel plans. Biden has a vacation home in Rehoboth and is expected to visit it this summer. If he travels by air, the town’s airport on Route 611 is included in the 30-mile restricted radius. Therefore, whenever Biden travels to Rehoboth by air, all activity, such as flight lessons, private aircraft use and skydiving operations, among other things, at the Ocean City airport must cease. The major concern and unknown is how often Biden plans to travel to Rehoboth. If it’s once or twice a summer, it might be bearable. Anything more is cause for concern. Local airport businesses and operations already struggle during the OC Air Show weekend because it essentially shuts them down for much of the week.

Senator Mary Beth Carozza got involved this week with a letter to Senators Cardin and Van Hollen and Congressman Harris.

“As a small local airport, Ocean City’s airport is very active especially in the summer months and provides income for a number of businesses as well as convenience for those private plane owners who regularly visit the resort town. The details of the TFR including the size, altitude, time period of the TFR, and types of operations to be restricted and permitted may have varying degrees of impact. This airport is located on the periphery, near the outer-most perimeter of the TFR,” she wrote. “… These businesses, like others, already have been severely impacted by the restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. An active summer season is essential to securing their financial viability. I respectfully ask that you as federal representatives request that the United States Secret Service and FAA Air Space Security Working Group meet with Ocean City Airport officials and commercial stakeholders, and work with them to consider alternative security procedures. I also request that financial aid considerations be made to offset the loss of income to the Ocean City Airport and its allied businesses ….”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.