Foss: Better days are on the horizon

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I didn’t realize how happy the news would make me.

This week my parents received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose, and my husband made an appointment to get vaccinated in early March.

With friends and loved ones now getting the COVID-19 vaccine in increasing numbers, it’s become much easier to imagine a very different – and very fun – summer and fall.

Ever since last fall, when COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths began creeping upward, I’ve been fairly cautious, eschewing holiday get-togethers and other indoor gatherings. My son had a very quiet 3rd birthday. We’ve been homebodies, going out for the occasional walk but not much else.

We’ve been waiting – patiently and sometimes not so patiently – for the COVID situation to improve.

And in recent weeks it has improved, with dramatic drops in hospitalizations and cases.

Throw a vaccine that’s slowly but steadily becoming more widely available into the mix, and it’s possible to see an end to the wearying state of emergency we’ve lived in for almost a year.

This doesn’t mean the pandemic is over, and experts have stressed that the arrival of a vaccine is not a panacea, and that we’ll likely be living with the coronavirus for some time.

Leading public health officials, like Dr. Anthony Fauci, have warned against a quick return to normal, emphasizing that while vaccines protect against sickness and death, it might still be possible to contract the disease and spread it to those who haven’t been vaccinated.

I understand why Fauci and others are striking such a stern tone when talking about vaccines.

They don’t want people to declare the pandemic over prematurely, throw caution to the wind and behave in ways that fuel outbreaks.

But the great promise of the vaccines is that they will allow us to do so many of the things we’ve been missing out on. COVID won’t go away – not completely – but it will become a more manageable illness, like the seasonal flu.

As The New York Times’ David Leonhardt observed this week in his morning newsletter, “The vaccines will not produce ‘Covid zero.’ But they are on pace – eventually, and perhaps even by summer – to produce something that looks a lot like normalcy.”

A lot like normalcy sounds pretty good to me.

It’s certainly good news for the people who have struggled during the pandemic – who have found the past year draining, stressful and mentally taxing.

I’m sure everyone knows someone who has had a tough time, and there’s plenty of research to support that the pandemic-related shutdowns have hit some people especially hard.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that a growing number of Americans say they’ve felt lonely in the past months, with young adults and mothers feeling particularly isolated.

The distress so many are experiencing isn’t sustainable.

It’s a serious problem, and it ought to be addressed.

At the very least, we should emphasize that better days are ahead, and that we won’t be expected to social distance forever.

Yes, vigilance will still be necessary.

But the restrictions we’ve lived under should fall away as more people get vaccinated and warmer weather, which allows for more outdoor activity, arrives.

People will soon be able to visit with family and friends without worrying so much about getting sick. Dining at restaurants, going to concerts – remember concerts? – and traveling will all become easier and safer.

I’m already starting to think ahead and make plans.

There are so many people I want to see.

We don’t want to lose sight of the risk COVID still poses, and will continue to pose.

But there’s going to be so much more we can do, and it’s going to feel absolutely wonderful.

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected] Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: News, Opinion, Sara Foss, Schenectady County

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