EDITORIAL: A new year is a time for hope

On the final day of 2019 a Record-Journal editorial looked back on the year gone by and declared being “cautiously optimistic” about the year to come.

The editorial noted that 20 years earlier people around the world had been worried about the prospect of “Y2K” — the fear that a millennial disaster would occur because computers would crash when the clock ticked over to “00.” That turned out to be an over-hyped worry.

So what were we worried about getting ready for 2020? There was impeachment (the first impeachment of Donald Trump). “Will we ever get back to a time when Republicans and Democrats can work together across the aisle?”asked the editorial. “Or will the bitter divide drag on?”

Today we know the answers to those questions (not yet, and, yes) but what we didn’t have even a question about yet was the coronavirus pandemic. In a couple of months the world would be consumed by it, but at the threshold of 2020 it was something we could not see coming.

By the end of 2020 we were exhausted by the pandemic, but there was reason to be hopeful. That hope came in the form of vaccines. 

“This isn’t just good news; it’s miraculous,” declared a year-end Cheshire Herald editorial. “It is a testament to the brilliance of so many in the scientific community who were able to produce different vaccines, all of which appear extremely effective in protecting against the health impacts of COVID-19.”

By spring hope was on a roll, and it appeared getting back to normal, something people had dreamed about during the dreary COVID months of 2020, was on the horizon. Vaccines, the Herald editorial had said, “are the light at the end of the tunnel.”

A year later we know too well that it has not been so simple. Persistent opposition to vaccination helped derail the effort to put the virus in the past, and new variants show the COVID enemy may be far from done with us. The highly contagious omicron variant now dominates the world of concern, and returned us to the precautionary posture we’d had reason to hope would no longer be necessary.

It’s a most disturbing spot to begin another year. And instead of hazarding forecasts about the year to come, it’s probably better to reemphasize what we already know.

What we already know are the tools needed to fight the virus. Those include vaccinations, testing, mask wearing and social distancing. Those tools, and in particular vaccinations, are the way out of the dreadful situation that has dominated the last two years. 

Continuing resistance to those common-sense approaches make it difficult to say what kind of year 2022 will be like, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be the year we find our way free of this scourge? A new year is a time for hope, after all.

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