Editorial: Year of COVID-19 brings out best, and worst

This past week, we marked a somber anniversary.

It’s been one year since the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a pandemic. One year since Gov. Mike DeWine announced the disease had reached Ohio.

The national COVID death toll has passed 530,000; almost 18,000 Ohioans have died.

For some of you, there may be personal milestones. Perhaps it’s been months since a loved one’s death from COVID or weeks since receiving a positive COVID test.

The year may have been marked with the loss of employment or an increased workload at a health-care job. You may have experienced mandated isolation from elderly parents or adult children. There may have been online school only. Family gatherings for weddings, funerals and holidays in 2020 were postponed. Maybe in 2021, we hoped.

We all saw our lives change. And the big question is how we will be affected into the future. Some of us struggle with depression or worsening mental health issues; others find out they can be surprisingly resilient and hopeful.

… In other cases, we saw the worst of people, as fraudsters cranked out counterfeit N95 masks or filed fake unemployment claims. Protesters angry with Gov. Mike DeWine’s necessary health orders pounded on windows at the Ohio Statehouse or shouted outside of then-Ohio Health Director Dr. Amy Acton’s home. Acton ultimately resigned.

We’re left to wonder how many lives would have been saved if the Centers for Disease Control and national leaders had quickly recommended widespread mask use to control virus spread. It’s regrettable that such a simple step became a source of political division and resentment. Good leaders send a consistent, clear message about how we all can help save lives.

Still, many Americans did their best to look out for others, and as we turn a corner in this fight, we perhaps can look back with pride on all the obstacles we have overcome.

… Our politicians who earlier argued about the usefulness of masks or the validity of elections must now come together to look ahead. How will we help businesses to reopen safely? How will we deal with the unknown numbers of people hampered by lingering effects of COVID? How will we help our children catch up after a lengthy disruption in their education?

And how will we avoid the mistakes we made during the past year?

We don’t have specific answers to these questions. But we are certain that putting aside bitter partisan fighting will be essential. Listening to recommendations based on science and concern for others will go a long way in these crucial discussions.

— Akron Beacon Journal, March 14