Editorial: Welcome, 2021. We have been waiting for you.

The Plain Dealer / cleveland.com

The calendar says today is the first day of a new year. Most Ohioans will likely say that it’s about time 2021 arrived, given how bad the old year, 2020, was for so many.

Before looking ahead, though, it’s only natural to look back. And what we see, and saw, isn’t pretty. In fact, much of it is tragic. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic killed more than 8,800 Ohioans. Family after family, friend after friend, are grieving.

Business shutdowns induced by the pandemic have cost Ohioans jobs, and entrepreneurs their businesses, especially in the hospitality industry. Child care has become a greater-than-ever challenge for parents with out-of-the-home jobs, and children now schooled, remotely, at home.

Public health measures taken to counter COVID-19 have, to a greater or lesser extent, isolated Ohioans from one another, and limited everyone’s liberty. Little wonder that public life in Ohio, and America, has become more bilious by the day.

Nonetheless, despite the logistical and medical challenges, the proportion of eligible Americans who chose to vote in November was the greatest since 1900 (and the pool of eligible voters was much smaller then). Though we live in what is sometimes considered a selfish, me-first age, valiant health care workers struggling to save the lives of COVID-19 patients have inspired us all. And public officials, acting to limit the virus’s spread, have for the most part responded appropriately to what for many will be their most confounding policy challenge ever.

The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines was perhaps 2020\u2032s most welcome news. When his or her turn comes, all Ohioans should get vaccinated.

Still, momentous as the vaccines’ emergence is, by themselves, the vaccines are no guarantee that the pandemic has been tamed. Rather, they call to mind what Winston Churchill said of a 1942 victory in World War II, which still had three horrific years to come: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

That’s where you come in. What you choose to do, and decline to do, will help conquer COVID-19. Everyone can make a difference, from accepting, despite the understandable annoyance, the need for masks and social distancing, to manifesting occasional good cheer about such matters. There’s truth in clichés, and this one applies to Ohio in 2021:

We are, after all, in the same boat. The voyage has been long. It’ll be longer yet. Each of us, to some degree, is impatient, unhappy, wondering when the horizon will finally reveal a safe harbor.

How soon that can happen, how soon the boat reaches port, will depend on the countless individual decisions that we make in 2021. Look out for friends, especially older Ohioans and Ohioans who live alone. Support local merchants and service businesses; their survival and recovery will hasten Ohio’s restrictive public health measures.

Soppy though it may seem, common efforts lead to common purpose, and common purpose is among the things our fractured, frowning, fuming country badly needs,

Given determination and focus, Ohio will, 365 days from now, find itself far better off than it is today. Welcome, 2021: We’ve been waiting for you.


The Plain Dealer / cleveland.com

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