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2020 is over but many challenges remain in 2021

Just because we have turned the page on 2020, does not mean that the issues we faced in that abysmal year are now behind us. The truth is, they are still very much here.

The U.S. registered more COVID-19 deaths in a single day than ever before — nearly 3,900 — on the very day the mob attack on the Capitol laid bare some of the same, deep political divisions that have hampered the battle against the pandemic, according to a Thursday Associated Press article.

The virus is surging in virtually every state, with California particularly hard hit. Skyrocketing deaths and infections there are threatening to force hospitals to ration care and essentially decide who lives and who dies.

“Folks are gasping for breath. Folks look like they’re drowning when they are in bed right in front of us,” said Dr. Jeffrey Chien, an emergency room physician at Santa Clara Valley Regional Medical Center, urging people to do their part to help slow the spread. “I’m begging everyone to help us out because we aren’t the front line. We’re the last line.”

About 1.9 million people around the world have died of the coronavirus, more than 360,000 in the U.S. alone. December was by far the nation’s deadliest month yet, and health experts are warning that January could be more terrible still because of family gatherings and travel over the holidays.

A new, more contagious variant of the virus is spreading around the globe and in the U.S. Also, it remains to be seen what effect the thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump who converged this week in Washington, many of them maskless, will have on the spread of the scourge.

As of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 5.3 million people in the U.S. had gotten their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine — well short of the hundreds of millions of Americans who will need to be vaccinated to stop the virus.

We must all continue to do our part to curve this virus. Just because there is now a vaccine, does not mean that we can afford to let our guard down and go back to life as usual. The problem is not getting better, it is actually getting exponentially worse. So please, continue to wear your mask, practice social distancing, and isolate yourself from others if you believe you’ve been exposed.

The only way we get back to a sense of normalcy is to follow these guidelines.

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