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Keep fingers crossed 2021 surpasses expectations

The Mirror’s editorial of Dec. 31, 2019, began with the observation that “the year that is about to end will be recorded as one of disgust, frustration, sadness and madness — one justifying fear about how it might impact 2020 and beyond in a negative way, both domestically and internationally.”

A correct observation for today, exactly one year later? How about this:

“The year that is about to end will be recorded as one of disgust, frustration, sadness, madness, sickness and death — and the most bitter national divisiveness since the Civil War.”

“Let’s hope 2020 makes better year” was the headline over that editorial 12 months ago to the day.

That didn’t happen, of course, and it didn’t take Americans 11 or 12 months to realize that 2020 would not live up to beginning-of-the-year hopefulness, or what to many had been confident expectation.

Most Americans were well aware by mid-March that this nation was facing attack by a formidable enemy, and that that enemy was not Russia, China, North Korea, Iran or anyone else, but instead a virus invisible to the naked eye but deadly by immeasurable proportion.

Even though hope has emerged by way of development of two vaccines now approved for use in this country, and perhaps more on the way, pessimism, fear and uncertainty nevertheless persist for a number of good reasons.

They include unknowns about the vaccines’ long-term overall health effects, how long the vaccines will protect recipients, one “flu” season or more than one, and whether COVID-19 will continue to sicken and claim lives because of some people’s refusal to roll up their sleeve for an inoculation.

Some people still consider the whole pandemic experience a hoax; others cannot be inoculated because they are allergic to certain components of the vaccines.

The bottom line: The nation mobilized too slowly and haphazardly to repel the virus’ attack early on. But perhaps the virus couldn’t have been stopped even if there had been a more skillful immediate response.

The terrible mess that the country is in was evident in the following Dec. 21 Wall Street Journal headline: “A burning desire to say bye to 2020; some send off year by setting fire to calendars.”

But the act of burning calendars won’t, by itself, help the nation heed the terrible lessons that should be acknowledged today and in the days and months ahead.

To many people here, it might already seem that more than a year has been ruined by the coronavirus threat and watching the infection and death tolls rise. However, it was only last Feb. 26 that the Mirror reported “Virus certain to spread to U.S.”; then on March 2, “Virus outbreak reaches over 60 countries”; then on March 7, “Pa. confirms two coronavirus cases”; then on March 10, “State now has 10 virus cases.”

The human and financial suffering that will be recalled as the dubious highlights of 2020 could darken much of 2021 as well. Meanwhile, fears about a potentially stronger strain of the virus make the current situation more frightening.

This New Year’s Eve, the best resolution on behalf of oneself and others will be a commitment to doing what is necessary to try to stay safe.

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