OUR VIEW: One year later, an end to the pandemic is in sight

The Daily Ardmoreite

One year ago today, the Oklahoma State Department of Health confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Carter County. Since then, thousands of our neighbors have been infected and dozens have died as part of the pandemic that has claimed millions of lives worldwide. 

It has been a rough year for us since that first confirmed case, but today in Oklahoma we see vaccinations rolling out at an increasing pace and case counts declining. Meanwhile, other parts of the world still see cases numbers climbing, health care systems collapsing and deaths mounting. 

We may feel like veterans of the pandemic and the end of it is finally in sight, but scientists are learning more about the novel coronavirus every day. Multiple variants have been identified – including at least three in Oklahoma – and less than half of our state’s population has been vaccinated. 

Because of this, we still must stay vigilant in keeping the virus at bay. 

Even after one of the worst virus surges in the country less than three months ago, our local health care system never completely collapsed unlike areas of northern Italy. Even though the U.S. economy contracted by about 2% last year, some countries like Brazil saw their economies shrink by over 4%. 

Some of us have made it through the pandemic relatively unfazed while others have lost their job, home or a loved one. The traumas faced by individuals over the past year should not be a contest of who had it worse because we’re all still in this together. These losses belong to all of us.  

But considering our losses, we have been the benefactors of numerous blessings during this pandemic – as Americans and Oklahomans – and we should recognize them just as much as we recognize the ongoing threat.  

As the state health department moves to weekly updates for much of their virus reporting, COVID-19 is still a part of our daily lives. News of the virus has slowed as more people actively join the fight to end this pandemic. 

Wear a mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and get vaccinated. There is still much work to be done, but a return to normal is closer than you might think.

Unfortunately, we will can get there together. With an end in sight, we must now refocus our efforts and finish strong. If we let up now, chances are, we might just end up where we were in January. An nobody wants to relive that.