A different world now

It’s been a year of sacrifice, loss and the unknown — but we’re still here

Posted 3/16/21

Where were you when the world stopped? It’s a grim question, one with answers unique to every individual who has endured a year of living in the pandemic.

For some, it was the early …

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A different world now

It’s been a year of sacrifice, loss and the unknown — but we’re still here

Posted

Where were you when the world stopped? It’s a grim question, one with answers unique to every individual who has endured a year of living in the pandemic.

For some, it was the early reporting from China about a new virus strain that first sounded alarm bells. For others, the first confirmed cases — including in January in Illinois — served as the wake-up call that the disease was a real and immediate threat.

But on March 11, 2020, everything changed. On that day, the head of the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 was a global pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a household name now, told Congress in a high-profile hearing the coronavirus would get much worse than the 600 cases confirmed at the time. Sporting events across the country suspended play.

Be it that WHO declaration, Fauci’s ominous warning, the sight of empty basketball courts or even actor Tom Hanks’ announcement he had contracted the virus, everyone has a moment they remember when the seriousness of the situation was unmistakable.

Into the unknown we plunged. Social distancing and hand washing were encouraged, followed by limitations on gatherings and travel. Masks were mandated. Schools were closed. Restaurants and businesses were closed.

The worst was yet to come. COVID-19 has claimed more than 526,000 American lives, including more than 23,122 in Illinois. More than 2.63 million are dead worldwide.

Many more were sickened — some seriously and some permanently — by the coronavirus. There is no one left untouched by what’s happened in the last year. We are all different.

Edgar County was luckier than many Illinois counties. Our first case did not appear until June. Our death total now stands at 64 of our family, friends and neighbors. Thinking of that — and seeing the faces who we lost — are almost more we can bear.

Bravery wasn’t confined to the area’s hospitals and clinics. From grocery store clerks and delivery drivers, to essential manufacturers, food workers and mail carriers, there are so many people — our family, friends and neighbors — who stepped forward when the circumstances demanded it.

The spirit of common purpose — of compassion and resolve — gave us hope when we needed it and strength to carry on when things looked their worst. If there is something to take from this awful experience, it should be that.

The world changed abruptly and dramatically a year ago. Few of us were prepared for what unfolded, and there is much we would do differently if given another chance. But we shouldn’t need a deadly disease to show our gratitude to those who serve, or to be helpful and kind toward one another.