Editor's Note: Here we go again...

Although there’s déjà vu associated with the latest fast-spreading coronavirus variant, it feels less paralyzing than when we first learned of the coronavirus pandemic in December 2019. Yes. Two years ago. Hard to believe? Some days yes, some days no.
After we stocked up on home test kits in December 2021, it’s clear we’ve entered a new phase in this global health crisis. The hope is that 2022 will be a better year.
We now have free vaccines for all but the youngest children and booster shots, plus more and better treatment options to help us all get through the omicron outbreak. These are miracles of science we simply can’t take for granted. Imagine the global health crisis if these prevention and treatment options were never invented! Have doubts? Ask an emergency room doctor or nurse.
These are like the intensified security protocols initiated after 9/11 that made travel safer — although often annoying and less convenient. But our fears of a terrorist attack in the air have diminished. We learned that taking precautions works. Just ask a pilot or flight attendant.
Still, as this new year begins, it feels fragile.
After all, 2021 ended up being another heartbreaker for many even though it started with so much promise following the chaos and panic of 2020.
Good people still died from COVID-19 infections, schoolchildren continued struggling to find their way in an upside-down world, and some of us trudged through the last 12 months with an aching void from loved ones who left us when life just became too much. And although overdose numbers in our area dipped this past year as people went back to work and in-person addiction treatment resumed, the numbers of ODs are starting to inch back up.
And we can’t forget that, to date, 800,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.
Surely, they haven’t died in vain. Let’s remember them — and everyone still struggling — as we enter the new year. Before we step into the future, let’s vow to learn from the past.
If we all do our part, 2022 should be a better year, right?
Happy New Year.

— Mary Kate Leming

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