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It has been one year since the first case of COVID-19 was reported. Some disregarded the rapidly-spreading virus, while others were set into a state of panic. Regardless of which you were, none of us could have been prepared for what was to come.

I remember reading articles about this new virus that had been discovered overseas in my computer class in January. I never would have imagined that this thing that had felt so far-away and insignificant would turn my world upside down. I had been reading all of these articles written by doctors and scientists, but at this point, COVID-19 had not even reached the United States yet.

My mom is a nurse in the ICU and CCU of our local hospital, and the thought of her treating patients that had tested positive with coronavirus had crossed my mind, but I always dismissed it out of hand. No one could have ever imagined the panic, horror, or devastation that would fill our planet in just three short months. From empty grocery store shelves, to CDC guidelines, we have truly been living in unprecedented times.

During the past year, concerns for the virus have risen and fallen, along with the numbers of cases worldwide. Through color-coded maps, masks of every shape, size and color, travel bans and countless arguments over what is safe, we have somehow survived the year.

If only we had known that the 2019 holiday season would be the last “normal” one for a while, everyone would have made those precious moments last just a little longer. We would have cherished those moments with our friends and family more than we ever had before. The annual family get-togethers that so many of us took for granted would have been so much more special if we had known how different the next year’s celebrations would be.

Although it will be far from normal, this holiday season does not have to be bad. Please make smart, safe decisions with your celebrations this year. Continue wearing your mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing; I know how annoying the repetition gets, but it is entirely necessary. It has been one year since COVID-19 officially “began.” Let’s not drag it out for another year.

Happy holidays, FlipSide readers! Whatever you celebrate this time of year, I hope that it is both fun and safe. See you in 2021! Let’s make it better than 2020 has been.

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