Happy New Year

By Polly Mikula

New Year’s is a time to reflect on the previous year and celebrate the arrival of a new one.

Last year at this time — about nine months into the pandemic when Covid case numbers were reaching (then) record highs — we were hopeful that the end of Covid was around the corner. Vaccines for all adults were on the horizon and most pundits were confident that we could and would vaccinate the virus away. Surely by 2022, life would be back to normal… most believed.

Well, now we know that’s not how it turned out. Going into 2022 with case numbers in Vermont three times higher than they were last year at this time, hope has waned. The odds of eradicating Covid are now slim.

But we have learned a lot about the virus and how to live with it, variants and all. We no longer have to close schools or businesses to keep each other safe: Wearing masks inside and staying home when sick is sufficient, vaccines work to prevent serious illness (but only for about six months, then a booster is required) and testing is crucial to curb community spread.

Most of us in Vermont feel lucky. We kept case numbers low (until recently) and the vast majority (85%) age 5+ have been vaccinated, with over half (55%) now boosted, which has made us a leader on the CDC Covid scorecard in nearly every category.

Vermonters also enjoy a large variety of outdoor recreation year round, and we’ve been able to continue enjoying such Covid-safe fun through the pandemic. Partly because of that, more and more people seek to live the Vermont lifestyle permanently. Our schools, businesses and communities have grown — reversing a decade-plus long decline in population. Many businesses are now thriving — and many new ones have opened.

Just like nearly everything in life, some good comes from the bad and vice versa.

As author Jackie Viramontez aptly quipped: Sometimes “shit hits the fan so fertilizer can rain.”

However you choose to honor the past year and celebrate the future, we hope you do so safely and respectfully and approach the debut of 2022 with hope.

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