Lucius Bryant ’22
This week marks a full year of country-wide shutdowns within the United States. A year ago from this Saturday, Mar. 13, President Trump declared his public health state of emergency to help states adjust to drastically different methods of commerce and conduct. At that time, the scope of the pandemic shutdown was unknowable, and the uncertainty of the future was at all-time highs. Fatigue began to set in after a few months, sparking massive cultural upheaval, riots, and a distaste for all things authoritative. Failures and incompetency in the former administration exacerbated the lack of confidence in a positive outcome to all the struggles. For Americans, life under pandemic restrictions has been tumultuous and eventful.
Now, after a full year of reducing contact, connection, and comfort, the tunnel’s end seems like more than a bright hallucination. Talk of vaccinations has been constant since the onset, and the past few months have been without much issue of effectiveness or aftereffects. Though the implementation and rollout of these vaccinations have many Americans want for the same things as before, seeing the collective population gravitate towards prioritizing vaccinations should provide the confidence needed to ride out the home stretch.
Confidence does not remove the possibility of total collapse near the end, unfortunately. There seems to be no end to the restlessness of American people, especially those for whom the lockdowns come at the time when freedom and fun should be at unlimited capacity; that is to say, college students. The large gathering (some may even use the term “riot”) at the University of Colorado Boulder that broke out Saturday night only proves that tensions are just as high as they have been. It is fair to say that in order to accelerate the coming of some semblance of normalcy after this intense period, expediting vaccine rollouts, restructuring restrictions, and increasing communication between authority and citizenry may indeed bolster the nation’s confidence to ensure smoother sailing towards the end.
Restructuring restrictions does not mean larger gatherings should be allowed or even considered more plausible than they were during the worst of the pandemic. It does mean leniency from institutional authority or state authority should begin to increase in the coming weeks. If citizens, students especially, are allowed to see that light at the end of the tunnel, they will be encouraged to not further muck the process. Some states have removed mask mandates, to some controversy, and remained on a downward trend with confirmed cases and deaths. Though restrictions should loosen, Americans should still hold each other accountable for the inconstant role they play in the spread of the virus. This alone should keep heads straight and consolidate all efforts and intentions of returning to normalcy.
The end of this pandemic, however, has not been set in stone. Perhaps restrictions will need to continue until no further cases of coronavirus have been reported. Perhaps in a few weeks news will break about unforeseen side effects of the vaccines, and the rollout will be retracted and tried once more. If there is any lesson to be learned from this past year, it is that expectations are made to be subverted. All that matters is to keep pushing forward.