Record editorial: Pandemic anniversary is a time for mourning, optimism
Most Summit County residents were concerned about the coronavirus pandemic when they went to bed the night of Thursday, March 12, 2020. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county had been announced a day earlier, prompting both Summit County and Park City to declare local states of emergency.
Yet it was not until the following 72 hours unfolded that most of us understood the enormity of the situation. The governor ordered the closure of public schools on Friday. A day later, officials detailed the first case of community spread in the county — and in Utah — and the ski resorts made the stunning announcement that they were closing weeks before the scheduled end to the season. On Sunday, Summit County imposed sweeping restrictions on restaurants and other businesses where people gather.
Any illusions that the coronavirus was not serious, or that society would soldier on as usual through it, were stripped away.
It was a weekend that most Parkites will never forget. One year later, it’s remarkable to look back on those early days of the pandemic and to consider everything we collectively went through in the ensuing 12 months.
As we mark the anniversary, a few things are clear.
We should be grateful that our leaders in Summit County reacted appropriately to the pandemic, immediately imposing strict measures to slow the spread of the virus and remaining steadfast as the crisis evolved.
We should be grateful to essential workers in our community who have sacrificed so much — often for relatively low pay and under difficult circumstances — while the rest of us spent much of the last year isolated in our homes.
We should be grateful to live in a place where people banded together during the crisis, rather than splintering apart. Since the coronavirus arrived, Parkites have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to relief efforts and have sought to ease the burden on their neighbors in myriad ways.
And as we express our gratitude, we must also acknowledge the pain experienced in our community and elsewhere over the last 12 months. More than 2,000 Utahns have died from the coronavirus. Ten of them were Summit County residents, who left behind family and friends who will never be the same. Nationwide, the death toll has reached 530,000, and the number of lives that have been adversely affected, through illness or economic hardship or other challenges, is many times greater.
In many ways, this one-year anniversary is a time for mourning.
Yet, remarkably, the mood as we approach our second spring with the virus is also filled with optimism. The vaccination campaign is accelerating, and nearly 13,000 people in Summit County have received at least one shot. The end of the pandemic finally seems within reach.
On March 12 of 2020, the prospect of still grappling with the coronavirus a year later would have been horrifying, even without the knowledge of how many lives have been lost along the way. Today, having endured the worst public health crisis in a century, we are glimpsing, at last, a brighter day.
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