There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s easy to forget, amid the steady drumbeat of bad news about COVID-19, that things are going to get better.
That this, too, shall pass.
The rapid increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations suggests that it’s going to be a tough winter, while the data shows that it’s already been a tough year.
According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the pandemic has caused nearly 300,000 more deaths than expected in a typical year, two-thirds of them from Covid and the rest from other causes.
These numbers tell a story – one that’s bigger than any single individual, but also intensely personal.
Many of us have lost someone this year, or know people who have. We’ve attended funerals, by zoom or in-person. We’ve comforted friends and loved ones, and tried to make sense of it all. Each day brings the possibility of someone new to mourn.
It also brings the possibility of a better tomorrow.
There’s been a lot of bad news this year, but also plenty to be thankful for.
One happy turn of events is the arrival of a vaccine for COVID-19.
Experts have warned that it will take some time to distribute the vaccine, and that getting it to everyone who needs it will take some time. Overall, though, the news on this front is very positive, with officials saying that the first 6.4 million vaccine doses could go out in mid-December.
The successful development of a vaccine for COVID means that the pandemic is going to end, sooner rather than later.
It means that if we can just get through the next four to six months, life should slowly start to return to normal.
Public health officials have cautioned against expecting too much from a vaccine too quickly – “next Thanksgiving could well be back to near-normal,” William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University told the Washington Post – which means we need to be patient.
So long as there is a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, I can be patient.
Which brings me to something else I’m thankful for: friends and family.
The pandemic has made it harder to see friends and family, and I’m grateful for the visits I’ve had with the people I care about.
More than ever, I’m grateful that COVID caseloads were low in the summer and early fall, and that I was able to visit family in Maine and New Hampshire during that time.
I’m grateful for the nice weather that allowed for low-risk outdoor get-togethers with friends in the spring, summer and fall, and the reopening of key institutions, such as my son’s daycare and local playgrounds.
I’m thankful for the technology that has enabled me to connect with so many people over the past 10 months, and the friendships I’ve renewed during what is typically described as a period of intense isolation.
Most of all, I’ve been thankful to see community organizations coming together to assist neighbors in need, the essential workers on the frontlines of the pandemic and the generosity every day people have extended to those who are struggling.
It hasn’t been the easiest year, and it’s not going to be the easiest winter.
But the end of the pandemic appears to be in sight, and that alone is reason to give thanks.
Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.