It’s been one full trip around the sun since the terrifying onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This time last year we were all panic buying toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes. Shelves were empty, businesses were forced to close, and most of us stayed home, our eyes glued to the news. At that time, we knew very little about how the novel virus was transmitted, how to protect ourselves, and just how deadly it would be. We had to navigate mask mandates, social distancing, and city-wide lockdowns, all of which disrupted our everyday lives. As cases soared and the death toll rose into the hundreds of thousands, it was inevitable that someone you knew either contracted COVID or sadly passed
away from it.
This past year will go down as one of the darkest times in history, with over 550,000 people dead in the US, and nearly 3 million worldwide. Day after day of reaching record-high numbers of cases and deaths, there seemed to be no end in sight. Nonstop headlines of tragic stories and statistics affected our mental health and made it difficult to keep a positive outlook. 2020 couldn’t end soon enough, but now it seems we are rounding the corner of this pandemic.
In November, Pfizer and Moderna published their vaccine efficacy results, both announced they were about 95% effective at reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection. This gave us all a light at the end of a very dark tunnel to look forward to. With a change in administration, vaccine distribution in the US also changed drastically.
President Biden reversed Trump’s policy of reserving second doses, and instead pushed for as many doses to be distributed as possible. This allowed many more first responders, healthcare workers, and essential workers to get the vaccine they desperately needed. February 1st was an important milestone in the US; more Americans were vaccinated than infected with COVID-19. President Biden set a goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office and was doubted by many political pundits. On March 19th, the day before spring officially began, the US met the 100 million mark, surpassing the goal by over a month. Now that we are well into spring, the US has been vaccinating an incredible 2.5 million people per day thanks to optimized distribution and increased demand.
For months vaccine eligibility was limited to only super seniors (75 and older) or those with multiple health conditions. Luckily, many states have since expanded eligibility. By May 1st, all states must expand eligibility to everyone over 18. The more people who are vaccinated, the safer it is for all of us. The CDC has also issued new guidelines that say fully vaccinated people can gather safely without masks; yet another incentive to get vaccinated. With the help of the COVID task force, President Biden has announced a tentative date for a return to normalcy: Independence Day.
Hopefully, the end is near folks. Adapting to pandemic life wasn’t easy, virtually everything changed overnight. We transitioned to working and learning from home, stayed away from friends and family, and even missed out on major life events like graduations and weddings. In some ways, our lives will remain permanently changed by this pandemic, but thankfully we can start to count down the days until everything returns to normal.