Today marks 302 days since Pennsylvania had its first two confirmed COVID-19 cases.
It feels so much longer. The novel coronavirus has impacted every aspect of our lives. How we work. How we get medical care. How we have fun. How we congregate. How we worship. How we learn. How we vote. How we shop. How we visit.
Even in a year with impeachment and a presidential election, the opening of a $70 million hospital expansion, a push for social justice and a double-homicide, COVID-19 dominated, globally, nationally and locally.
Across the Valley — from our colleges, hospitals and schools, grocery stores and restaurants — everything somehow linked to the novel coronavirus.
More than 300 Valley residents, many of them in hard-hit nursing homes, have died. More than 15,000 Valley residents contracted the virus, which put stress on hospitals and front-line workers, who were first in line this month to get vaccinated.
Things many of us had never heard before March — masking, social distancing, Zoom — became part of everyday life. There was, for a brief period of time, a run on toilet paper, as people worried about stay-at-home orders and feared they would run out.
Last year also served as a reminder that there were and still are clear needs for many in the region and the Valley again opened its arms. Lines for free milk giveaways were dozens of cars long. Food banks were seeing double the amount of traffic.
As the calendar ticked over into 2021, there are more people in Valley hospitals than at any point in the pandemic. This is in part because too many people still — even after so much death, sadness, science and evidence — think COVID-19 is a hoax and proven mitigation efforts infringe upon their rights.
As early as last March, medical experts and epidemiologists told us to stay apart to help stop the spread of the virus. Yet eight months later, many gathered for Thanksgiving and last week, many gathered for Christmas. We saw a spike in cases after Thanksgiving; we will see another one after the New Year.
We get the need for family and connectivity. We get people are tired of sacrificing. We all are tired; 2020 couldn’t end fast enough.
But we have made it this far. There is light at the end of the tunnel with vaccine distribution underway but we’re not there year. Let’s hang in there as we start anew in more ways than one.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.