On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The same day, Dr. Fauci testified at a Congressional Hearing and was asked if the worst was yet to come.
He was right. Over 500,000 died in the US, and that’s probably an undercount. That’s still more than the number of US fatalities from WW II, Korea, and Vietnam combined.
The virus wasn’t the only terrible thing from the past year. Anti-science beliefs that once seemed confined to the fringes moved into mainstream politics. I still haven’t figured out the whole “The virus is a hoax and isn’t real, but it was made in a Chinese laboratory, so, therefore, we must be at all people of Asian descent, even if they have no ties to China.” The Republican Party discarded the facade of being responsible, patriotic defenders of life. They revealed themselves as dangerous overgrown preteen fans of Donald Trump, willing to endanger others to satisfy their selfish desires and throw insurrection tantrums if they didn’t get their way. One of my characters, Charlene Spencer, bragged about importing a book called Democracy is Dumb. That could just as easily be the motto of the Republican party. Some churches were willing to endanger their communities to make money, and the Supreme Court was willing to go along with it.
There was some good. There were also many protests against police brutality and racism. The vast majority were peaceful. What violence did occur was mostly initiated by governments, vigilantes, or infiltrators. Despite the distraction of the “defund the police” slogan, Black Lives Matter’s support improved among white Americans, and more whites were willing to learn about racism.
I was fortunate over the last year. To the best of my knowledge, I never had COVID, I was able to work remotely, and I lived in an area where I could practice social distancing. I wasn’t, however, untouched. I lost a family member to COVID, and I know people who were infected, including long haulers.
Looking forward, I hope the American Recovery Act and the vaccines move us to a new and hopefully better normal. I really do hope I can get the vaccine at some point in the new year.
But I also know that while Trump is facing legal issues, Trumpism is still going strong. With Congress closely divided and voter suppression efforts by the Republicans, the politicians inspired by Trump could make come back.
So, I have hope that things will get better, but the worst could still be yet to come. If we let it.