We must acknowledge the ongoing threat of the virus despite a new year

As much as we hope for 2021 to be better than this unfortunate year, it’s foolish to assume the new year will change everything. 

When the clock strikes midnight, we will still be in the grips of a pandemic, millions of Americans will continue to struggle financially and thousands of students will still take classes remotely. Many of us will continue our lives in our childhood bedrooms, alone in an apartment or a residence hall room. A new calendar year won’t change a thing.

Our immediate lives might look the same, but there is something promising about a new year. We can renew hopes for something better, and in this country’s situation, the only way we’ll see something better is if we wear our masks and keep our distance.

December has so far proven to be the deadliest month of the pandemic. More than 300,000 American lives have been taken so far, roughly 63,000 of which have taken place this month alone. It is undeniable that the holidays and the past nine months of isolation, quarantine and social distancing have caused many of us to experience “pandemic fatigue.” We need to remember that this is the final stretch and if we don’t break the rules tonight or in the new year, we might live more safely in 2021.

We are tired of not seeing our friends and family, spending birthdays and holidays alone, not being in school and missing everything else that this pandemic has cost us. But that does not mean that it is time to pretend that the virus is not a threat and go on with our everyday lives as if nothing is happening. 

I have seen countless tweets and posts talking about how 2020 will finally be over and how 2021 will hold greater possibilities and more freedoms. This wishful thinking is setting us up for disappointment. Yes, 2020 has been difficult and it seemed like it was all just one punch after the other. But assuming that 2021 won’t hold the same fate is mildly delusional. 

States across the United States are facing vaccine shortages, new strains of COVID-19 are popping up left and right, our hospitals are overflowing and there are more and more cases being reported every day. There is nothing but hope and promises from elected officials to indicate that this turmoil will end anytime soon.

While this may seem overly pessimistic and “negative Nancy-esque,” it is important to face reality instead of hiding from it. We must prepare for the state of the pandemic to be either the same or worse in the new year. Even though 2021 promises more vaccinations and holds the possibility of mass immunization against this pandemic, it is going to be a long wait until we get to that point and we must remain vigilant in our efforts to prevent the spread. Don’t go out tonight, and please keep your distance in the new year.

Hannah Thacker, a junior majoring in political communication, is the opinions editor.

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