Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.
A song from the musical “Rent” famously asks how we remember a year.
We’re all going to remember this past year for a long time. It has been unlike any other in our lives — and at times it has felt more like 525,600 days than minutes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. It closed our businesses and schools, putting workers out of their jobs and students were stranded from school. It kept us home and separated from those we love. And even once we opened our doors again, it changed the way we operate in so many ways, both big and small.
It revealed, as trying times always do, both the best and worst in humanity. Think fondly of all the people who have stepped up to help others during the pandemic and all those brave front-line health care workers who worked to the point of exhaustion to keep the rest of us safe. And recoil at the images of people buying stores’ entire stock of toilet paper, and snowflakes throwing public tantrums over being asked to put a little piece of cloth over their nose and mouth.
Most importantly and tragically, the pandemic has claimed the lives of nearly 33,000 Floridians, more than half a million Americans, and more than 2.5 million people across the world.
Fortunately, as we reach the one-year mark of the pandemic in Florida, the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter by the day.
After a tragic and devastating winter, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths have all been dropping dramatically over the past two-plus months.
And of course, the vaccines are here. In a marvel of modern science, there are already three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines being distributed throughout the country. More than 3.2 million Floridians have started their vaccination, and more than 5.7 million are fully vaccinated.
With COVID’s deadly spread continuing to fall and more people being vaccinated every day, optimism is becoming more and more abundant. The post-pandemic normal will not look exactly like the old normal, but the closer we can get, the better. And we’re getting there. That feels good.
So here’s to continued progress on the vaccine front, and continued drops in the virus’ spread.
That song from “Rent” is titled “Seasons of Love.” That seems appropriate, because it feels like we’re on the precipice of some post-pandemic seasons of love: a spring and summer hopefully filled with doing more of the things that bring us joy and happiness.
In the meantime, let’s make sure we get there together.
Let’s stay safe, wear masks, social distance, and do what we can to keep those around us safe as well.
This was never going to be a happy anniversary. Too many lives have been taken or upended over the past year. But while it is somber, we can also make this anniversary a moment for hope and optimism.