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Light at the end of tunnel

There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we haven’t emerged from the dark just yet.

An article on the front page of today’s edition details — as much as currently possible — how a vaccine against the coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 Americans so far this year will be distributed when it arrives in Belmont County.

The first batch of shots is expected to be here on Dec. 22. It will be the vaccine produced by Moderna, not the Pfizer vaccine that received emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday. The Moderna shot is next in line for approval.

The reason Eastern Ohio residents will receive the Moderna vaccine is that it does not require ultra-cold storage as the Pfizer shot does. Our area simply doesn’t have the facilities to store doses of that shot properly.

Despite the fact that Belmont County won’t receive the very first shipment of available shots, this is all very good news. It means that, sometime in the next several months, much of the population will have been immunized against the dangerous illness known as COVID-19.

That does not mean, though, that it is now safe for any of us to let our guard down.

COVID-19 is still raging in local communities as well as across the Buckeye State, the nation and around the world. In Belmont County, it has sickened nearly 2,800 people and killed 48. Jefferson County doesn’t lag far behind with 2,390 total cases and 32 deaths. The more rural Harrison and Monroe counties have fared slightly better with 438 and 514 cases, respectively, and 7 and 22 deaths.

In order to prevent further spread of the disease, we must continue to wear facial coverings in public. We must refrain from gathering in groups of people who do not live in our own households. And we need to sanitize surfaces and stay at home as much as possible.

We are all weary of these restrictions. We want to see our friends and family members in person. We want to come and go as we please.

These desires will become even stronger during the holiday season. Regardless of whether we celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, we will want to do so with our loved ones. The same will be true as we bid goodbye to 2020 and extend a warm welcome to 2021.

We must not give in to temptation. Instead, we need to remember that the best gift we can give our loved ones is to make every effort to keep them safe.

That will mean some personal sacrifice. We may not be able to dine together and exchange gifts as we would like.

In the end, though, it will all be worth it when we are able to celebrate these occasions together next year. Look toward the light.

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