We were a little concerned this morning that when we opened up our new calendar it was going to read, Jan. 1, 2020, as if we were stuck in some covid-19 version of Bill Murray’s 1993 movie, “Groundhog Day.”
We are eager for change this year, to put much of 2020 behind us; not the least of which is the pandemic, its restrictions and deprivations and its economic harms. But that will take more than flipping the page on the calendar.
The truth of course, regardless of the calendar, is that the circumstances that greeted us this morning are little different than those of the day before. Or the day before that; just as things won’t have changed that much between Jan. 19 and Jan. 20, except in our particular outlook regarding the end of one presidential administration and the beginning of the next.
Change is almost always incremental and often imperceptible; but change also is inevitable. And change — on scales personal to global — is heavily influenced by our own actions, by the choices we make and our commitment to staying to a course of change.
You know: resolutions.
Allow us to suggest adding these three to whatever list you are making this year:
Wear a mask. When you are out in public — running errands, shopping, walking the dog — if you are likely to come within a few feet of someone else, even briefly, please wear a mask or other face covering and wear it properly, covering your mouth and your nose. As much hope as has been placed on covid-19 vaccines and treatments, public health authorities continue to maintain that face masks remain the most effective practice for preventing the transmission of the virus from one person to the next.
And keep wearing them. Even as distribution of vaccines continues and more and more can benefit from their protection, the vaccines’ effectiveness depends upon two doses and sufficient time for the body to develop a strong immune response and for enough of us to be vaccinated to develop a sufficient level of “herd immunity” to deny the virus a chance to reproduce.
When it’s your turn, get vaccinated. It’s a medical marvel — and a demonstration of the good our taxpayer dollars can achieve — that researchers have developed, tested and deemed safe and effective at least two and potentially more vaccines; and in a period of less than a year. It took two decades to develop the polio vaccine.
It would be a maddening waste — and a deadly tragedy — if the expertise and expense that were invested in the vaccines are lost to unfounded fears and ridiculous conspiracy theories.
Even with a rapid roll-out of vaccines, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that the United States will see more than 550,000 covid-19 deaths by April 1. Without significant distribution of vaccines, the nation could see more than 800,000 deaths by April Fool’s Day.
In the meantime, while we wait for widespread distribution of vaccines, most of us are doing our best to respect restrictions on our activity and — for many of us — on our jobs and businesses that have been hard to accept. It’s meant that too many of us have lost employment, while many others have lost a small business or are facing its closure.
But there’s a resolution that could help preserve many small businesses and the jobs that they support.
Shop local. While the state’s covid restrictions have placed limits on which businesses can be open and the level of services others can provide; there remain opportunities for us to support shops and restaurants that we value as parts of our community and as an economic force that spreads wealth and provides employment.
We’ve shared these figures before: For every $100 spent at an independent retailer, $45 is returned to the community in support of other businesses, compared to $14 for the large chain stores. For online retail, the return to the local community barely registers in cash registers: about a $1. And for restaurants, $100 spent at an independent restaurant returns about $65 to the local economy, compared to $34 for chain restaurants.
For businesses, such as restaurants now limited to take-out, we can support them through the purchase of gift cards that provide them the money they need now and allow us something to look forward to when we can once again enjoy dining in.
Those looking for suggestions of local businesses to support can consult a Snohomish County effort: Support SnoCo at www.supportsnoco.com. The website offers videos from businesses throughout the county and a searchable list of businesses and services as well as safety tips that businesses and customers should follow.
In years previous many of us likely viewed resolutions for the new year as a chore, difficult to keep because it can be hard to see our progress and the value in keeping promises for our own benefit.
But this year, these are the resolutions we can keep that matter to more than just ourselves; they matter to our families, our communities and beyond.
Admittedly, these resolutions also have become entangled in our politics, which will complicate how well everyone adopts these promises, how well they keep them and how effective they will be in fostering the change we all want to see.
At the heart of a resolution is the commitment taken by an individual. These are choices we make as individuals, but they are promises we make out of respect for everyone around us.
May 2021 be a year of good health and prosperity; resolve to make it a truly happy new year.