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Our Opinion: Looking back at our COVID-19 year

Throughout 2021, the Brainerd Dispatch will be revisiting some of the people we talked to and stories we wrote while covering COVID-19 in 2020.

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On Sunday, March 14, the Brainerd Dispatch published a look back at the year of COVID-19 in the Brainerd lakes area.

We hope many people have, or will, take a look at it because it’s a sobering — and ultimately hopeful — look at the path we’ve been on the past year.

Related: The year of COVID-19: A look back at the local timeline of events from the moments it all changed A look back at what brought us to this moment shows just how far we’ve come — from the frightening confusion of the early days to the march toward lives no longer dictated by an invisible force.
The story, under the headline “The year of COVID-19: A look back at the local timeline of events from the moments it all changed,” totaled more than 6,000 words and chronicled the past year’s headlines and synopses of key events as reported in the Brainerd Dispatch.

The story — a timeline of events covering a multitude of areas — is a prime example of the importance of local journalism in chronicling our history. And to say the past year has been historic is an enormous understatement.

It’s an astounding read simply because of the fact it shows what we went through, not just as the Brainerd lakes area but as a state and country, from March of 2020 through March of 2021. The story serves as a guide to that year in history, a rollercoaster ride of our collective struggles, tragedies and triumphs.

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Yes, we’ve been through a lot in the past year, from the first announcement of the worldwide pandemic in early March of 2020 to the widening availability of several COVID-19 vaccines in early March of 2021. Through it all, we’ve persevered. Yes, there have been bumps, but we’ve made it this far and we can continue to push further.

Throughout 2021, the Brainerd Dispatch will be revisiting some of the people we talked to and stories we wrote while covering COVID-19 in 2020. And, of course, we will continue to cover everything new with the coronavirus pandemic until it’s no longer a story anymore. Like everyone else, we are hoping that happens sooner rather than later and we can return to life as we knew it before 2020, or an even better version through what we’ve learned this past year.

But now is not the time to let our guard down. We’ve come a long way and there is light at the end of the tunnel, but we need to stay vigilant in our effort to get past COVID-19. We’re not quite yet where we want to be, but we’re doing a whole lot better than we were even just a few months ago.

The reminders may seem repetitive but they are always worth repeating — wear a face mask in public, maintain social distancing and wash your hands often. It’s the simple things that can offer us some of the best measures of protection against the virus.

Oh, and if you haven’t signed up to get vaccinated yet, do so. The more people we get vaccinated the quicker we can move on from the coronavirus pandemic chapter in our history.

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