With 2020 now officially in the history books, wouldn’t it be lovely if last year’s awfulness were behind us? Sadly, it is not. Yet there is reason for hope.
The Covid-19 crisis has in no way abated. Nationally, daily reported infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise, with the hideous benchmark of 400,000 deaths looming within weeks.
California is in bad shape. Southern California in particular is reeling from a vicious spike in cases, such that ICU beds are no longer available and EMT workers are being asked to determine which patients might survive a trip to the hospital and which might not.
In the Bay Area, the pandemic is hitting hard. Our story this week reports that at the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, a continued outbreak has infected 95 residents, with 58 staff members testing positive since March. Four lives have been lost there so far. This follows hard on an outbreak last September at Rhoda Goldman Plaza, which claimed the lives of eight residents.
No, we are not out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic. The coronavirus itself, and the attendant economic consequences, continue to ravage our community, the nation and the world.
The human spirit will not be denied, even in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime.
But it is a new year, and with it comes new hope. The vaccine has arrived at the SFCJL, where many of the staff and residents have already rolled up their sleeves to be immunized; the rest are in line right behind them.
We fully expect the incoming Biden administration’s Covid response team to take charge of the woefully inadequate vaccination rollout and make sure millions of Americans get their shots as soon as safely possible.
And then, there are babies. Sweet, squeezable babies. Our heartwarming, life-affirming story this week about pandemic pregnancies and births shows the human spirit will not be denied, even in the midst of the greatest public health crisis of our lifetime.
The subtext of our story, which profiles several Bay Area Jewish parents who had children over the past year, suggests that the hardships of isolation, quarantine and social distancing paradoxically opened the door to a countervailing family intimacy. That intense closeness only gathered strength while these parents faced the challenges we all experienced last year.
And so it goes, in our Jewish tradition, that we seek the light amidst the darkness. It is 2021. It is a new day, a new year, already giving us plenty of reasons for hope. All we have to do is hang in there a little bit longer. Meanwhile, don’t let down your guard. Stay home, stay safe.