Brian Woodham

At this time a year ago, our feeling of normalcy tilted firmly toward trepidation of an unknown killer hitchhiking its way into our community — the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, were arriving in the Loveliest Village.

As responsible adults, we responded accordingly — gutting local grocery stores of their wares until bare-shelved aisles resembled something out of a zombie apocalypse flick.

Panic in the face of the unknown is normal, though, and the coronavirus was the most formidable type of unknown — a beast that finds its way into every corner of every room and leaves no one untouched.

Putting aside the unfortunate misinformation spouted by certain politicians and talking heads, what happened next was at turns both terrifying and remarkable. 

The nation, for the most part, went into a lockdown to help our hospitals get a handle on the influx of severely-ill patients and our doctors the time they needed to begin to understand the behavior of the novel threat facing the world. The data and experts' understanding of the virus changed as the pandemic wore on, resulting in shifting guidelines at times that only made public-messaging and outreach harder to achieve. 

While the virus was robbing families of their loved ones, residents of their jobs and livelihoods, children of their normal school experience and communities of their businesses and economic stability, doctors and health experts were engaged in an ambitious undertaking — developing a vaccine within the year, a proposition that would have been laughable if the need weren't so immediate and the circumstances so dire. 

The federal government threw its weight behind the in-country effort to develop a vaccine with Operation Warp Speed, and many other nations around the world joined together to fund a similar vaccine-development effort, the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator. Companies, like Pfizer, also worked tirelessly to develop a vaccine on their own independently of the governmental programs. 

In arguably the greatest scientific achievement of the century, scientists were able to produce viable Covid-19 vaccines in under a year, a feat that should result in a Nobel Prize for those scientists who have been working on using messenger RNA to fight disease for decades, an effort that resulted in two novel mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. 

Those two vaccines kicked off the country's vaccination effort in December, with Johnson and Johnson's vaccine joining the fold last week. 

Between federal contracts for supplies of the three vaccines, the Biden Administration said it expects there to be enough doses to vaccinate every American who wants one by the end of May. 

While that effort was going on over the past year, communities around the country worked together to help out their neighbors, while doctors, nurses and hospital staff worked to the breaking point to tend to our sickest friends and family and help see us through the pandemic.

While a slight sense of normalcy seems attainable in the short-term, the fight against Covid is far from over, as more-transmissive variants emerge and enter our communities. Those variants will likely result in the need of a booster shot at some point, an effort that companies are already working on.

While the past year has been filled with heartache, loss and society-altering change, it has also served as a beacon of what is possible — from new medical technologies to the power of what communities can do when they work together to lift each other up in times of need. 

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