It was a few weeks ago that the country marked the unofficial one-year anniversary of the pandemic’s arrival.
Ask many, however, and they’ll tell you that it was at this moment last year, when Seder and Easter services were canceled or moved online and traditional family functions done away with, that the reality of the situation began to sink in. This wasn’t going to be a short interruption to our everyday lives, we began to realize. Something much more serious lay ahead.
It’s hard to imagine that, as we arrive at Holy Week and Passover, the pandemic remains an ever-present part of our lives. Our masks are still on. Our lives are still being lived at socially-distant measurements. We monitor positivity rates and vaccination numbers now the way a submariner might study his or her vessel’s depth — with unblinking concentration.
In fact, our world in April of 2021 looks similar to what it did in April of 2020, or at least more similar to one year ago than it does to Passover and Easter of 2019 — a time in history from which we are only two years removed, but one that seems so foreign and distant with each passing day.
Yet it’s important to recognize that things have changed in the last 12 months. We are not where we were. Things are getting better, not worse.
In April of 2020, we had only a vague understanding of how to address the virus that was sweeping across the world. Our knowledge was limited and would remain so throughout much of the spring.
The number of people testing positive per day was alarming. The number of people seeking medical attention for or dying from the disease was downright frightening. We hardly knew what we were dealing with, let alone how to defeat it.
Now, a year later, we know how to defeat it and, more importantly, that we will. Sooner rather than later. Vaccines arrived before the beginning of the new year, and while there have been plenty of hiccups and remains numerous kinks left to work out in the process, Connecticut in particular and the country in general has done a laudable job in getting shots into arms, especially of those who need protection from the virus the most.
On April 1, Connecticut will make the vaccine available to anyone 16 years of age or older. That means that, little more than a year after the virus arrived, a vaccine is there for everyone who wants it. Those who predicted a year ago that such a medical feat was even possible were treated as, at best, overly optimistic and, at worst, laughably uninformed.
A year ago, religious services were relegated to online-only. Now, several houses of worship are offering in-person services, whether outside or within the sanctuary. Easter dinners can be had at local restaurants this year, many of which offer an abundance of both indoor and outdoor accommodations, and as more people become vaccinated, the more that families feel comfortable gathering. People who haven’t seen each other in person in over a year may be able to this weekend.
No one would suggest that this year-long ride has been an easy one, and unfortunately it isn’t over yet. There are still hurdles to overcome, still dangers to be dealt with. Yet one thing we know for sure: A year ago, the worst of the pandemic lay ahead of us. We may not have known it for sure, but we felt it in our bones. Now, we know the worst is behind us.
Despite recent news of an uptick in cases, things are getting better. Deaths associated with the disease have gone down dramatically and continue to do so, and while hospitalization numbers fluctuate, they aren’t close to what we saw at the height of the pandemic. Of course, precautions must still be taken and everyone must prioritize getting their vaccine. But we are on the other side of this terrible year of pandemic, and that’s worthy of celebration.