We live in hope. After more than 10 months of living under the threat of the novel coronavirus, scientists have come up with vaccines that gained emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

COVID-19 has changed the lives of every person on the planet. In Ohio, the latest statistics show 579,357 cases and 7,654 deaths since March. In the U.S. there are more than 16.6 million cases and 302,000 deaths. Worldwide, the number reached a grim 73.4 million cases and 1.63 million deaths. COVID-19 is the fourth leading cause of death in Ohio for 2020 and the leading cause of death in the U.S., surpassing heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With these staggering numbers, it is hard to believe that some of our local government bodies are still conducting in-person public meetings with no remote access options. This is surprising considering the available communication technologies. But these groups are in the minority compared to the number of councils, trustee boards and school boards that continue to provide remote streaming options.

There is good news on the vaccine front. Americans on Monday watched history in the making on TV as frontline healthcare workers around the U.S. received the first doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. There were tears of joy. There were smiles of relief. There were signs of living in hope.

Seven hospitals in Ohio received deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week, including the Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth Medical Center. In all, Ohio received around 98,475 doses that will first go to healthcare workers and then to nursing home residents.

State officials said that more vaccine shipments are expected, including 123,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 201,900 doses of the Moderna vaccine. An Additional 148,00 Pfizer and 89,000 Moderna doses are to arrive in Ohio during New Year’s week. And more will come after that.

Medical experts predict that with consistent distribution and administration of the vaccines, the U.S. could achieve herd immunity by mid-2021. This is another reason we live in hope.

Still, the vaccine distribution will take months. So, as we wait our turns, we must continue the health protocols of wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings, social distancing and washing our hands. And we must continue to reach out to each other and spread a sense of hope, something we have seen over the past months.

Outdoor lighting events of Hanukkah menorahs in Gates Mills and Solon, with onlookers wearing masks and social distancing, allowed the joyous holiday to begin last week. The Chagrin Valley Jaycees planned a different Christmas season kick-off with a Santa parade down the streets of Chagrin Falls village instead of the traditional crowd gathering in the town square for the annual tree lighting. There are food drives and toy drives to help families feeling the economic burden of COVID-19. Officers put a new twist on the annual Shop with a Cop event this year. Instead of taking the kids on shopping trips, officers raised money and purchased gift cards to be delivered in a safe way to the children. Knowing that extended family gatherings are not recommended this year, area churches are delivering Christmas dinners to those who may be alone.

We know not what the coming months will bring, but we do live in hope for better days.

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