Welcoming a new year is traditionally an exciting time as we look ahead to celebrating all life’s moments with family and friends and preparing our New Year resolutions. The New Year has always been a time of promise for a brighter future. And as we said goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021, that sentiment was as powerful as it has ever been.
The past year has been a year of hardship for all of us. Environmental, social justice and financial issues impacted our nation and the globe, but most prominently we all grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the hardship during this time, however, we have seen the best in people.
During the pandemic, communities have come together to keep small businesses open by ordering take out or opting to shop local. Volunteers gave their time to help food banks collect and distribute food to families in need. And our teachers expertly adapted their methods to teach our children in person or virtually.
Most importantly, we have seen how our healthcare workers, first responders, and essential workers work tirelessly day after day to help others, often sacrificing their own health and safety to do so.
During the upcoming year, I would like to suggest a New Year’s resolution for you: continue to follow the guidelines of 2020 regarding wearing masks, washing hands, using sanitizers, keeping social distance, and not participating in large gatherings.
I know we have been at this for a long time. Many have become disillusioned and have started disregarding the guidelines. We have seen people refusing to wear masks, some restaurants and businesses have been ignoring capacity limits, and people have been holding and attending large gatherings. I know it has been difficult and has been exhausting, but we need to remember that this pandemic is not over yet. If we do not follow precautions, we are not only endangering ourselves, but others.
Vaccines have been approved and distribution is beginning, giving us a renewed sense of hope, but it will not be for several months that much of the population is able to be vaccinated. While the vaccine is administered in the tiered approach set forth by the State of New Jersey, I ask that you all remain patient and diligent in an effort not to spread this disease. Patience takes a significant effort, but in the end, we will make it through this pandemic.
Resources and information have been collected by Middlesex County and are available at middlesexcountynj.gov/covid19.
Please be safe and may God bless you.
Ronald G. Rios is the director of the Middlesex County Board of Commissioners. He submits the occasional column to Newspaper Media Group.