A new poll from Goucher College released Oct. 13 found 45% of Marylanders have been financially hit by the coronavirus.

The other 55% of those surveyed said the pandemic did not cause them a financial hardship.

We know there are challenges with the validity of polling these days whether it is because of cellphones or Trump and other voters who do not want to respond. Our experiences from 2016 and Donald Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton have brought into question the accuracy of some polls.

But we believe the 45% financial hardship figure is much higher — especially here on the Eastern Shore.

Talk to anyone who owns a small business, or works at restaurant or hotel, or any event planners or caterers and ask them if the pandemic and its economic wounds are hurting them. The answer is yes — and is probably still a resounding yes.

Jobs and livelihoods are still very much in jeopardy for many of our neighbors. Businesses are still hurting and need to see more consumers and business customers come back from their pandemic induced hibernations.

We are glad that some of our neighbors have not been touched by the economic, social or public health pains of the pandemic. That is a blessing. But the economic wounds from the closures are still real for many others in our community.

COVID-19 numbers have generally been improving statewide. But we will see what happens with the weather getting colder and the coming flu season.

Schools need to continue to reopen as long as COVID indicators remain positive.

We are also concerned about what will happen on the COVID-19 front in the lead up to after the election. There have been plenty of political agendas firmly attached to our collective and individual responses to the coronavirus.

We need to continue to make sure jobs, the economy and mental health are all balanced with public health protections. We are not sure our small businesses, our jobs and our mental health can take another round of widespread coronavirus closures.

We worry about the return of the fear that gripped our world earlier this year. That fear has subsided some, though a COVID-related mental health crisis is very real here on the Shore and elsewhere.

We want to see local businesses and our communities looking for creative and innovative ways to save and grow jobs. We want to students be able to get back to social routines and having the option of getting back into the classroom. We want restaurants and hotels to be safe and survive.

There are still plenty of precautions we need to take with the virus. But we have to acknowledge there are more than a few in our communities, the media and leadership positions who have a strong penchant for fear and politics. Some favor political outcomes and social controls over another shutdown’s impact on their neighbors’ liberties and lives.

Candidates and advocates at all levels and from all political corners need to be pressed more on their plans for jobs, their plans for those hurting economically and socially and what they will do if the virus situations improves or worsens.

Let’s hope the aftermath of Trump v. Biden does not result in a major step backwards on the COVID-19 front.

We simply cannot afford that.

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