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Claremont's long road to new normal

Did any of us really believe Claremont would still be under health restrictions in September? We now begin our seventh month of social distancing and are finally making some progress. But the country still has a big COVID-19 problem. And as we see business activity pick up, hopefully we will remember what got us to this point.

If you remember, after the first LA County death during the week of March 13, COVID-19 escalated quickly. There was some panic buying and hoarding, with food markets running out of paper products, bottled water, soap, milk, pasta and more.

As the virus numbers increased the state clamped down, closing all but essential businesses, which instantly ground the economy to a halt. Stay at home orders were put in place, and we were asked to social distance and wear masks.

Overall the public flunked that test as widespread images of large parties appeared all over social media. It was seen as an older person’s disease at first, that was until the virus caught up with young people as well a few months later.

Both public and private schools shut down, including the Claremont Colleges, and transitioned to online learning. After the first month, the public quickly grew tired of stay at home orders, making noise about the effects it was having on the economy, among other things.

But the US continued to see uncontrolled growth of COVID-19, with a president in denial, refusing to wear a mask, fighting with real health experts, and recommending untested, potentially life-threatening remedies. It’s no wonder the US, with roughly four percent of the world’s population, is now home to 25 percent of its coronavirus cases.

Some states were far more confident they could relax restrictions. They only recommended mask wearing, even though the numbers were telling a different story. The public was ready to try, and try we did until we witnessed spikes in the very areas that had relaxed restrictions. And that included California, LA County and even Claremont.

So we went back to where we all started with more stay at home orders, social restrictions and the closing of businesses, some of which had just reopened. We clearly are more serious this time around as many states have seen significant drops in virus numbers. But we are not done yet, especially in LA County.

The residents of Claremont have done their part in keeping our virus rates low, with only about 40 percent as many cases per 100,000 people as the LA County average.

I do believe the US needs another stimulus package to help get the country through this crisis, which has lasted much longer than anticipated. It doesn’t have to be as significant as the initial multi-trillion dollar stimulus, just enough to ensure we all have jobs to return to when the economy bounces back.

Claremont suffered a taste of the harsh COVID-19 reality in August when several established businesses closed their doors. That included The Claremont Club with a surprise announcement than stunned members, with the 19-acres of property being listed for sale. With over 260 employees, this news was felt by more than just members.

It’s obvious most of us continue to make the best of a long-term pandemic under added stress of a divisive presidential campaign and the Black Lives Matter movement. And we’ve seen people of all ages die too easily, have lingering heart conditions and other medical issues because of COVID-19. It’s just so unpredictable, staying healthy is rarely this complicated.

Finally, I wanted to thank all our supporters who have contributed to the COURIER’s success. Especially those readers who elect to add $10 to $50 on top of the regular subscription price. Every contribution helps the COURIER, especially our hard working employees.

There’s no question 2020 will be remembered for so many life-changing events. During this time, the COURIER staff has discovered the community really cares about the contribution they are making. And after all this “stuff” is over, we’ll reach out to say thank you…in person!

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