#Editorial: 2020 Leaves Challenges to Overcome in 2021

FILE - In this Oct. 23, 2020, file photo, University of Washington research coordinator Rhoshni Prabhu holds up a swab after testing a passenger at a free COVID testing site in Seattle. Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U.S. are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in nearly every single state. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Most likely people are enthusiastically welcoming 2021 more than any other new year in history, because of the challenges and bizarre events that occurred during 2020. It’s traditional for new years to be received with high element of hope, as people see before them a fresh, clean calendar which they seek to fill with success in every aspect of their lives.

Ironically, similar hope and potential for success was expressed at the beginning of 2020, although there was subtle caution that the year was another Leap Year, traditional regarded as years with unusual challenges.

But the challenges were so stark in 2020 that some have been heard to say jokingly, they will not even count their birthday celebrated in 2020.

Although there’s great relief in seeing the passage of 2020, it would be foolhardy for anyone to belief that 2021 comes with a shining magical wan that makes all the problems experienced in 2020 vanish. The fact is many of the problems and challenges that evolved in 2020 has carried over to 2021, and people are going to need strength, good sense, and cooperation to make the new year the success they are hoping for.

The biggest challenging facing America, and indeed the world, is to curb the spread of the dreaded coronavirus – COVID-19. One positive of 2020 as it came to an end, was the success in developing vaccines to prevent the spread of the virus.  Applying these vaccines to over 300 million Americans who are eligible to receive them presents a major challenge. As the year begins there are reports of shortages in the number of vaccines originally planned in the first round of distribution, and also some confusion as to who should be in the priority group to get the vaccines.

Careful, and structured planning is necessary to ensure people who are more vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus receive the vaccines as seamlessly as possible. Like the flu vaccine, multiple locations, including hospitals, clinics and pharmacies should be made available where people can receive the vaccine under strict protocols that ensure the population priorities are maintained.

Securing and organizing the smooth distribution of the vaccines will be one of the early priorities of the incoming Biden/Harris administration. It will be necessary for the administration to reach out to, and garner the support of, state administrations to ensure the distribution of the vaccines as they come available as efficiently and equitably as possible.

But this could also prove a difficult challenge, with the incoming administration is taking office as the country continues to be bitterly divided politically. So-called “Red States” like Florida led by Republican governors, have not been in line with the recommendations of scientists to curbs the spread of the virus. Sadly, management of COVID-19 throughout 2020 was clouded by the political divide, with some Republicans lead by the outgoing president underplaying the seriousness of the virus, and blatantly refusing to follow common sense recommendation like wearing of masks, and the practice social distancing.

It is imperative if the country is to recover from the dire health and economic setbacks created by COVID-19 in 2020, the remedies to curb the disease, including the distribution and acceptance of the related vaccines be pulled out of the political shredder. America will not recovery from the challenges brought about by COVID-19 in 2020 if millions of citizens refuse to see the virus as a serious health issue that must be controlled.

The challenges presented to the incoming administration is particularly high. Other than the health challenges caused by the pandemic, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have the task of ensuring some 74 million people who did not vote for them to accept them as their president and vice president. From Day-1 they’ll have to make the effort to bridge the yawning political divide, which has been made even wider since the presidential elections as unfounded allegations of elections fraud abound.

Lack of trying to reach unity, including a real attempt at hitherto rare bipartisanship within the chambers of Congress, and throughout the wider community, has the potential to damage the American society worse than COVID-19.

There’s optimism, that Biden, once criticized as too old to lead the country, has the experience as a multiple-term former US senator and two-term vice president to bridge the political gaps in the nation. Repeatedly, before and since his election, he has said he plans to be the president of all America, not the president of the Democrats and the “Blue States” that voted for him, but also the Republicans and the “Red States.”

It’s hoped that when he reaches out to those who opposed him they’ll place the interest of the common good of the country over political preferences and allow the crippling pollical divisions to be breached.

So, there are serious challenges being carried over from 2020 to 2021, but the existence of these challenges presents obvious pathways to how they can be overcome. The fervent hope for 2021 is that the general American public, learning from the unfortunate lessons of 2020, will adopt the necessary common sense in cooperating with each other and the leaders of the nation are embarking on these pathways.

 

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