Holiday break marks important stretch for COVID battle

FROM STAFF REPORTS / Editorial 

It has been nine months. Nine months of agony, pain and disruption in our daily lives.

When the first cases of COVID-19 appeared in Alabama earlier this year in March, I’m not sure anybody could foresee what was to come. But it quickly went from something we thought might be a nuisance for a week or two, to now nine months later begging for any sort of normality to return.

No matter how close we seem to get to hurdling the virus, it rears its ugly head once again.

It’s almost to the point of being stuck in a desert for days and finally seeing a pond of water ahead for that slimmer of hope, only to realize it’s a delusion as you hike on hoping for that next sign of hope.

Now, nine months after COVID-19’s first confirmed case in the state on March 13, we have a new sign of hope—a vaccine on the near horizon.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Dec. 9, State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris announced a vaccine would be available in the next week or two.

He did, however, warn that there are multiple phases to dishing out the vaccine, starting with those who need it most, including medical personnel, nursing home workers and patients and first responders.

Harris said it was likely to be this summer before the average Alabamian can receive the vaccine.

He made the announcement during the same press conference that Gov. Kay Ivey extended the state’s mask-mandate order until Jan. 22, while it came just a day after the Shelby County School system decided to delay the start of the second semester.

It serves as a reminder that just because a vaccine is on the horizon that we are nowhere near being out of the woods yet, and we have to keep our eye on doing right by others.

No part of us wants to be told what to do, but during December and throughout the holiday season, we need to be mindful.

Families will gather, stores will be more crowded and children will be out of school wanting to be around all of their friends having fun.

But now more than ever is the time to be cautious.

So for at least the next few weeks, do your part in being aware of your surroundings and do your best to keep yourself and others safe this holiday season.