116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes.
A song from the musical 'Rent” famously asks how we remember a year.
We're all going to remember this past year. It has been unlike any other in our lives - and at times it has felt more like 525,600 days than minutes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. It closed our businesses and schools, leaving workers out of their jobs and students stranded from their schools. It kept us home and separated from those we love. And even once we began to open our doors again, it changed the way we operate in ways both big and small.
It revealed, as trying times always do, the best and worst in humanity. Think fondly of all the people who stepped up to help others during the pandemic and all those brave front-line health care workers who worked to the point of exhaustion to keep the rest of us safe.
And recoil at the images of people buying a store's entire stock of toilet paper, and snowflakes throwing tantrums over being asked to wear a little piece of cloth.
Most importantly and tragically, the pandemic has claimed the lives of over 5,500 Iowans, more than half a million Americans and more than 2.5 million people globally.
Fortunately, as we hit the one-year mark of the pandemic in Iowa - the first cases were confirmed in Johnson County on March 8, 2020 - the light at the end of the tunnel is shining brighter by the day.
After a devastating winter, COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Iowa have all been dropping dramatically over the past two-plus months.
And of course, the vaccines are here. In a marvel of modern science, there already are three safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines being distributed throughout the country. As of Sunday morning, more than 280,000 Iowans have completed getting vaccinations.
With COVID's deadly spread continuing to fall and more people being vaccinated every day, optimism is becoming more and more abundant.
The post-pandemic normal will not look exactly like the old normal, but the closer we can get, the better. And we're getting there.
So here's to continued progress on the vaccine front, and continued drops in the virus' spread.
That song from 'Rent” is titled 'Seasons of Love.” That seems appropriate, because it feels like we're on the precipice of some post-pandemic seasons of love: a spring and summer hopefully filled with doing more of the things that bring us joy and happiness.
In the meantime, let's make sure we get there together. Let's stay safe and do what we can to keep those around us safe as well.
This was never going to be a happy anniversary. Too many lives have been lost and upended over the past year. But while it is somber, we can also make this anniversary a moment for hope and optimism.
Given what we've all been through, that's not too shabby.
Erin Murphy covers Iowa politics and government. His column appears Monday in The Gazette. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @ErinDMurphy.