Record editorial: Vaccines are coming, but the end of the pandemic is not yet here
The end of the pandemic, though not yet within reach, is on the horizon.
The news in recent weeks of the apparently successful vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna was perhaps the most encouraging development since the pandemic began. In the wake of the announcements, state officials offered clarity on when Utahns might expect to get a vaccination and when, at long last, things may return to some semblance of normal.
The long and short of it: Officials anticipate that there will be enough doses for the bulk of Utahns to receive vaccinations in the late spring or summer, with health care workers and high-risk people getting them sooner. When enough Utahns are vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, we can start putting the pandemic behind us.
Summit County residents — along with everyone else — now have a turning point to look forward to, a beacon of hope that will help get us through what seems certain to be a challenging winter.
As encouraging as the vaccine outlook is, however, it is not a signal to abandon the measures that have helped us weather the pandemic thus far. Rather, it should be motivation to soldier on, even as we long ago grew tired of the way COVID has changed our lives.
Coronavirus cases in Utah and Summit County remain elevated, and hospitalizations continue to stretch hospitals thin. Health officials expect another surge in the coming days after people gathered with friends and loved ones outside of their households for Thanksgiving, underscoring the reality that we remain in the worst phase of the pandemic so far.
In Summit County, the deaths of four residents from COVID-19 in recent weeks — after just one fatality in the pandemic’s first several months — has brought the danger of the coronavirus into sharper focus than ever before. County Health Director Rich Bullough has said the tragic increase in fatalities is a result of how quickly the virus is spreading.
Far from being time to let down our guards, we remain entrenched in the fight against the pandemic. That will continue to be the case until we reach herd immunity through broad vaccination.
If we squint, we can see that day on the horizon. We’ll finally be able to take off our masks, gather with others at a concert at the Egyptian Theatre or a football game at Dozier Field and revel in the human connection we’ve all missed so much.
With the finish line in sight, don’t let up. Instead, let’s push through and do our part to make sure as many people as possible reach it alongside us.
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Our view: It’s been disheartening to see the rate of new cases accelerate in recent weeks, fueled by the holidays, despite the pleas of health experts to act responsibly, avoid gatherings and be as cautious as possible.