One year in, we have a lot to be grateful for

Published 3:44 pm Friday, March 12, 2021

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We’ve heard a lot of people talk about March 13, 2020, over the last year. We’re not sure why that’s the date we’ve all held on to, but usually it seems to be the day that everyone references when discussing the start of the COVID-19 pandemic locally.

In the large scheme of things, sports were not important at that time, but they are easy reference points when thinking back to the impact on our country.

It was actually two days earlier, on March 11, when the NBA shut down its season. It was March 12 when the NCAA Tournament was canceled. Both of those dates are memorable because they showed that things were about to change greatly in our country.

It was actually March 15 when Troup County had its first case of COVID-19, a late Sunday evening story that we posted on our website. It became one of the most-read stories in the LDN in 2020.

Little did we know what was to come. Masks, social distancing, thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths in our own community.

There was a time when Troup’s numbers appeared under control, and there was concern about next door, where Chambers County and Lee County in Alabama were seeing high numbers. Then, suddenly LaGrange saw a huge spike and for a short time was listed as the No. 1 hot spot in the United States according to data from the New York Times.

It’s been a rough year.

Things that we all took for granted were taken away from us. A family trip to the grocery store was no longer an easy thing (or smart thing) to do as the virus ran through our community. Going out to dinner wasn’t even an option for a while, and neither was getting a haircut.

Family vacations were canceled, and birthday parties became drive-by celebrations that tried to replace the warm of hugs and kisses. School was canceled, resuming with masks and social distancing measures in place in the fall.

Grocery stores put arrows on the ground to tell you which way to walk, and toilet paper and hand sanitizer sold out as quickly as it hit the shelves.

Community meetings went virtual, and some still are.

This pandemic is far from over, and we’re not writing this as a way to say it’s finished. It’s certainly not.

However, we’re in a much better place today than we were a year ago when there were so many unknowns.

Back then, most of us were terrified, especially out in public. Things that we never would’ve thought twice about previously — like walking past someone else in a grocery store — felt awkward.

Most of the things we’d come to know as normal in life didn’t feel normal anymore.

But now it’s March 13, 2021. Temperatures are expected to be in the 80s this weekend, and once time changes on Sunday it won’t get dark until around 8 p.m.

The sun is literally shining down on our community, and there’s plenty of optimism to go around.

Some in our community — 3,316 according to the Georgia Department of Public Health — have received two doses of vaccine, meaning full vaccination.

That number isn’t high enough, but it’s a start.

Georgia is averaging less than 2,000 new cases a day right now over the last week. If we’d said that number last year at this time, it would’ve been terrifying (Georgia barely had any cases at this point in 2020). However, that number shows a great deal of progress in 2021, considering on Jan. 13 — exactly two months ago — the seven-day average was almost 10,000 new cases a day.

We’re not out of the woods yet. We all still need to take precautions — wear a mask, social distance, etc. But, we’re not sure we thought there’d be this much optimism just one year after COVID-19 started running through the United States.

We took a lot of things for granted before March 2020. As life gets closer to returning to normal, let’s not take them for granted any longer.

We hope you get outside this weekend, enjoy the sunshine and spend some time with family. And for now, don’t forget your mask.