The year 2020 will soon be in our collective rearview mirror. When the clock marks the end of a year like no other, we all will be glad to put 2020 behind us. It was a year where we learned that the word pandemic was not just another footnote in the history books.
We learned new words and phrases, like COVID-19, super spreader, social distancing, epidemic and, well, you know them.
We learned what happened when the nation ignored the advice of our government's top experts and pretended everything was alright when it was not. Our trusted news sources, who reported the findings, statistics and advice of our top governmental experts, found themselves attacked for doing their jobs.
Sometimes it seemed like the crowd attacking the scorekeeper when the home team lost the big game. Then, to top it off, the losing team claimed they had won, despite the score, claiming fraud. We are still waiting for evidence of foul play.
It was a year when public officials of both political stripes declared a public emergency and ordered us to stay home to protect us all from the pandemic. Their warnings were met with resistance.
It was also a year when we were scared to heed their advice. It was a year when we were scared not to heed that advice. Nondescript government officials on both sides were pilloried, threatened, and forced to call the cops doing the job we asked them to do. Many of them were unpaid volunteers or paid very little.
In some Maine towns dependent on the retail tourist trade, the Main Street storefronts featured signs that said "For Lease" instead of advertising their wares.
Schoolteachers, God bless them all, busted their guts trying to educate homebound kids. And their parents, God bless them, too, worked from home, kept house, managed the family business and kept an eye on their kids.
It was a year of layoffs, furloughs, unemployment, and supplemental assistance. We looked to Washington for national leadership and were rewarded with a symbolic one-finger salute. In many corners, the public returned the gesture.
To the year 2020, and the 42 weeks we have been afflicted by the pandemic, I say, “Good riddance.”
But don't despair. It is not time for you to hide in the closet and pull that old L.L. Bean blanket over your head. In the last two weeks, we have seen a glimpse of hope on the horizon. Big Pharma, the industry we have criticized for years for the astronomical fees it charged for its magic pills, seems to have come through with a vaccine to protect us and our loved ones from Mr. COVID-19.
They have started vaccinating the folks we depend upon, health care workers.
For once, in addition to the docs and nurses, they include the ordinary folks who clean the hospital wards and the others who bring us to the ER. Next in line are our senior citizens in extended-care facilities. Then, in steps, it will come you and me.
It will take some time to vaccinate several millions of our fellow citizens. And the government used taxpayer funds to buy millions of doses of vaccine with taxpayer money, so, as usual, it will cost us in the end.
I know there are lots of folks who are skeptical of the vaccine. I suspect most will get in line once they see that it will not cause a terrible disease or something worse.
As the New Year dawns, we hope to return to some semblance of normality, but it will never be the same. And don't forget to thank those who stayed on the job as we stayed home.
Thank you to the docs, nurses and ambulance crews who kept us alive. Thanks to the cops and firefighters, who kept us safe. Thanks to the librarians who kept us sane and a special thanks to the shopkeepers who sucked it up and kept their doors open for us all. Don't forget to thank postal workers and delivery service workers who subbed for Santa.
A big thanks to the local food pantry gang, the thrift shop ladies, and the wonderful Woodchucks, who helped us, our friends and our neighbors. Thanks to the great grocery store clerks who kept their shelves stocked with bread, milk and yes, TP.
And don't forget us, the reporters and editors who kept us all informed of the happenings, good and bad, in the tiny coastal villages and big cities that make up the great land we call the United States of America.
Happy New Year.